Many African countries have enforced tight controls to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus. These measures take into account restrictions on foreign nationals, the closing of schools, and prohibitions on mass gatherings to stem the epidemic.
South Africa has closed its borders to nationals of the most affected countries and banned large public gatherings, while Kenya has also imposed drastic travel restrictions. These measures are an attempt to prevent a major epidemic on a continent where health services are poor.
At least 26 African states have been affected by the virus so far. Most of the confirmed cases concern people arriving from Europe and North America. But South Africa has imposed the most stringent restrictions on its citizens since the end of white minority governance after reporting its first local transmission.
In a speech to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of national emergency, with the number of cases rising to 61 in the country. “Initially, it was people who had traveled outside the country, especially Italy, who tested positive for the virus,” he said. “It is worrying that we are now facing internal transmission of the virus,” said Ramaphosa.
Rwanda, meanwhile, reported four new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to five, according to the ministry of health. The new cases all concern Rwandan nationals. Two patients arrived from Fiji and London, respectively, while one patient was infected inside the country, the ministry said. RwandAir, the national airline, still operates weekly flights to London Gatwick Airport.
President Paul Kagame on Twitter on Sunday invited leaders from neighboring countries to join the World Health Organization (WHO) “handwashing challenge”, which focuses on handwashing as a preventive measure.
The health ministry said it was looking for people who may have been in contact with patients. Rwanda now has the highest number of coronavirus cases of any country in East Africa. Authorities have closed all schools and banned all gatherings – including places of worship – to prevent the spread of coronavirus.