The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says it has received reports that some African countries are refusing entry to their own citizens returning from China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Africa CDC made this announcement during a media briefing at the AU Summit in Ethiopia on Sunday evening.
The organisation’s director Dr John Nkengasong said this went against the instructions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that there should be no restrictions of movement, goods and air travel.
“What we see are countries which are doing their individual decisions which we cannot control. For Africans who are returning, we have an obligation to receive our citizens and keep them for a while. Monitor them, screen them and then release them into the communities.
“I say this because, as of yesterday, we started receiving reports that some countries are refusing their own citizens from coming back to the country. This cannot happen. We should all act collectively and make sure that we put pressure where it has to be placed, because Africans cannot be rejected.”
Nkengasong refused to name the countries in question, saying that the media should not create fear.
Africa CDC has been funded with $5 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to respond to the outbreak.
AU Commissioner for social affairs Amira Elfadil added that 15 countries had already received training on diagnostics.
The 15 countries which received priority are those with direct flights to China.
“Africa has had suspected cases, but no confirmed cases. We are working on prevention methods, working with the government of China which is supporting CDC. We are doing our maximum best to protect the continent from the coronavirus.”
Until recently, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria were the only countries equipped with the ability to run accurate testing. To mitigate this, Africa CDC is planning to do another round of training for 20 additional countries and will supply them with test kits.
“China is going to ship 3,000 test kits which are arriving on Monday for back up in cases of emergency. We are better prepared than we were last week,” Nkengasong said.