African states, including the continent’s biggest economy Nigeria, on Wednesday said they had begun to introduce measures aimed at stopping the spread of the new coronavirus.
No verified case of coronavirus has been reported to date in sub-Saharan Africa, but elsewhere countries have stopped flights to China and airlifted their citizens out of the area where the virus emerged.
Nigeria issued a travel advisory advising “all Nigerians and persons intending to travel to China” to delay their plans unless the trip is “extremely essential.”
People arriving from China or any country with a “major outbreak” of the coronavirus are advised to stay at home for at least two weeks if they develop any symptoms, according to the advisory issued by Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.
The authorities are also requiring airlines to report any case of sickness onboard before the plane lands in Nigeria.
“Nigerian ports, health services, and (the) Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are on alert at our airports and other ports of entry,” the advisory said.
The small central African state of Equatorial Guinea, meanwhile, said it had quarantined four travellers who had arrived from Beijing.
The four had landed on Tuesday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight at the airport in the capital of Malabo, the government said.
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On Monday, the prime minister’s office had announced that all passengers from China would be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
In West Africa, the Chinese embassy in Mauritania said China had asked its nationals who have recently arrived or returned to the country to remain confined for at least 14 days.
There was no indication that the message was motivated by any specific situation in Mauritania.
The embassy also advised Chinese planning to travel to Mauritania to postpone their trip. It said those already in the country should communicate daily about their health and avoid public gatherings.
Experts say the potential spread of the virus in Africa is a concern because of the poor healthcare infrastructure in many parts of the continent.
An oil-rich state with an entrenched record of authoritarian rule and poverty, Equatorial Guinea has developed close economic ties with Beijing.
Chinese companies have been awarded a string of contracts for infrastructure projects.
The Mauritanian government has set up a crisis unit and placed thermal cameras at the airports of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.
Many of the Chinese in Mauritania work in technical assistance, Chinese projects and trade operations, but there no direct flights between the two countries.