Several African nations have imposed travel restrictions from high-risk western and Asian countries to combat COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 has killed over 6000 people worldwide and infected more than 162,000 others, according to virus tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins, prompting several African nations to act fast even though there were still less than 300 confirmed cases on Sunday evening.
The Democratic Republic of Congo imposed quarantine measures on travelers from Italy, France, China and Germany.
“Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, and others have imposed similar quarantine measure for European travelers, while across the continent, passengers are screened for their temperature at international airports. A Cameroonian news outlet reported higher arrivals from Italy due to people trying to escape their coronavirus-infected country,” The Intercept reported.
In Nigeria, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar called on Africa’s most populous country to impose travel restrictions against high-risk countries, and President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a task force to combat the virus, even though he has resisted calls for sweeping travel restrictions or bans.
In a long statement on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster using the Disaster Management Act.
“This will enable us to have an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus. We will also be able to set up emergency, rapid and effective response systems to mitigate the severity of its impact,” he said.
Many domestic measures are also being put in place in several African nations to protect the continent from the deadly disease. For instance, Senegal and Kenya have announced school closures.
The travel restrictions imposed by African nations followed similar measures taken elsewhere.
On Wednesday and Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was imposing travel restrictions against European countries.
Mr. Trump said the measures were needed to protect Americans. At least 62 people have been killed by COVID-19 in the United States.
And just in the past 24 hours, Italy reported that at least 368 people had been killed by COVID-19 while the pandemic was fast spreading in Spain, where Begoña Gómez, the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had tested positive for coronavirus, and in France where the death toll was escalating as well.