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Coronavirus: is Africa ready to face the epidemic?

Across the African continent, states are tightening their controls, but experts fear that the poorest countries will not have sufficient means in the event of an outbreak of the epidemic.

Africa has so far been spared the new coronavirus from China, but the “funny war” has started . Across the continent, states are tightening their controls, but experts fear that the poorest countries will not have sufficient means in the event of an eruption of the epidemic.

>> Read also: Coronavirus: the epidemic passes the milestone of the 250 dead, China more and more isolated

Ports and airports are on the front line . Medical teams check the temperature of travelers there, as in Dakar, where small thermal cameras appeared before passport control last week.

>> All our articles on the coronavirus

“The first symptom of these contagious diseases is fever”, explains the head of health controls at Blaise Diagne Airport in Diass, near Dakar, Doctor Barnabé Gning. He “luckily,” he says, just received training in November to respond quickly to epidemics. In the event of a fever, the procedure plans to put travelers in solitary confinement, the time to carry out tests. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday described the epidemic from China, which has spread to several regions of the world, as an “international emergency”.

“Our greatest concern is the possibility that the virus will spread in countries with weaker health systems”

The main cases of direct contagion between humans has been observed in China. Others have been reported in Vietnam, Germany, Japan, the United States and France. “Our greatest concern is the possibility that the virus will spread to countries with weaker health systems,” WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

The Ebola experience

The risk of such transmissions is “very low in developed countries”, underlines J. Stephen Morrison, from the Center for International Strategic Studies (CSIS) in Washington. However, if cases were exported “to certain African countries or other continents where the means of health security are limited, large epidemic foci could then break out outside of China”, fears the expert.

States are aware of the danger of viruses. West Africa was affected in 2014 – 2016 by an epidemic of fever hemorrhagic due to the Ebola virus which killed some 11. 300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Ebola has also caused more than 2. 200 dead since its reappearance in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 2018. In the capital of Liberia, Monrovia, the head of the public health institute, Mosoka Fallah, estimated the cost of the measures to be implemented immediately, calling the spread of the coronavirus “catastrophic”. “We must take measures as soon as possible to prevent him from coming back here,” he said before Parliament.

“It is ruined »If the coronavirus returns to the country

” It is done “if the coronavirus returns to the country, estimates in Luanda an Angolan student, Anciao Fabiao Paulo. “Our health system is vulnerable and we don't have good specialists. People are already falling like flies because of malaria, ”he says. A “special effort” of surveillance is expected from countries with strong ties to China, including Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Mauritius, told Addis Ababa on director of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), John Nkengasong.

In Cape Verde, locals flock to fennel, reputedly – wrongly – to be a cure for the new coronavirus . The closure of a Chinese store in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, has raised public concerns about the disease's arrival when it is simply a matter of removing shelves from expired food. “Chinese shops should be avoided as much as possible,” said a journalist, Mqondisi Dube, in Botswana.

Without falling into a state of psychosis, the authorities of several countries, including Senegal, recommend that people take precautionary measures, such as washing hands with soap or sneezing in tissues, and medical services were made aware. In Mozambique, authorities have suspended the issuance of visas for Chinese citizens. “For the same purpose, visas for Mozambicans wishing to travel to China are also suspended until the situation returns to normal,” said government spokeswoman Helena Khida. In Mauritania, the Chinese embassy asked nationals who recently returned from China to stay home for two weeks. A similar measure has been requested from anyone returning from China by the Nigerian Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

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