Africa

Coronavirus: African states impose strict restrictions

A security officer wearing a protective face mask poses for a picture at the entrance of the Infectious Disease Unit of Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 15, 2020

A security officer wearing a protective face mask poses for a picture at the entrance of the Infectious Disease Unit of Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 15, 2020Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Kenya has ordered all schools to close

Several African states have imposed far-reaching restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

South Africa has closed its borders to nationals of the worst-affected countries and banned large public gatherings, while Kenya has also imposed sweeping travel restrictions.

The measures are an attempt to prevent a major outbreak on a continent with poor health services.

At least 26 African states have so far been affected by the virus.

Most of the confirmed cases involve people arriving from Europe and North America.

But South Africa imposed the most severe restrictions on its citizens since the end of white-minority rule after reporting its first local transmission.

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In an address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster as the number of cases rose to 61.

“Initially, it was people who had travelled out of the country, especially from Italy, who had positively tested for the virus,” he said.

“It is concerning that we are now dealing with internal transmission of the virus,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

More on Africa and the virus:

What else has South Africa done?

Mr Ramaphosa said he would chair a government command council that would “coordinate all aspects of our extraordinary emergency response”.

Among the measures he announced are:

  • The closure of nearly half – 35 out of 72 – of South Africa’s land border crossings from Monday, along with two of its eight sea ports
  • Banning foreign nationals from eight countries – including the UK and US – from entering South Africa from Wednesday
  • Advising people to avoid domestic travel
  • Shutting all schools with immediate effect until the end of the Easter holidays
  • Banning all public gatherings of more than 1,00 with immediate effect. This forces the cancellation of the biggest annual event in South Africa – an Easter religious service attended by several million followers of the Zionist Christian Church at its headquarters in northern Limpopo province