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Africa CDC: Countries shouldn’t bar their citizens from returning from China

The centre said it had trained 15 African countries that were most at risk and they would be ready to screen for the virus from Monday.

FILE: Passengers arriving from China wait in line to be checked by health officials at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam on 29 January 2020. Picture: AFP

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union’s (AU) Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has appealed to countries on the continent to stop preventing their citizens from returning home from China.

The centre said it had trained 15 African countries that were most at risk and they would be ready to screen for the coronavirus from Monday.

However, the Africa CDC said some governments were making it hard for citizens to return home amid fears around the outbreak. The centre said South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria were already equipped with accurate testing systems for the coronavirus.

Africa CDC director Dr John Nkengasong said it received $15 million to equip 15 countries that were most at risk, including countries that had direct flights to China.

Nkengasong said the continent decided to abide by the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations not to restrict movement, but some countries were going against this.

“For Africans who are returning from China, we have the obligation to receive our citizens and keep them for a while and monitor them and release them into the community because as of yesterday, we started receiving reports that some countries are refusing their own citizens from coming back to the country. It cannot happen,” Nkengasong said.

He said while there were no confirmed coronavirus cases on the continent, the 15 most at-risk countries were trained by a task team that meets twice a week and 20 more would be trained soon.