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Coronavirus; Some African Countries Refuse To Evacuate Their Citizens Studying in China

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The Wuhan, China-originated Novel Coronavirus outbreak is getting uncontrollable, claiming 3,000 lives worldwide, governments in sub-Saharan Africa are finally taking steps to repatriate students in Wuhan. But several key countries remain hesitant worried about the potential for an outbreak at home.

African students who are stranded in Wuhan in particular have been appealing to their governments to help them get back home from a city which has been on lockdown for several weeks now as authorities try to curtail the transmission of the virus.

As the Wuhan, China-originated Novel Coronavirus outbreak worsens, claiming 3,000 lives worldwide, governments in sub-Saharan Africa are finally taking steps to repatriate students in Wuhan. But several key countries remain hesitant worried about the potential for an outbreak at home.

African students who are stranded in Wuhan in particular have been appealing to their governments to help them get back home from a city which has been on lockdown for several weeks now as authorities try to curtail the transmission of the virus.

South Africa’s health minister Zweli Mkhize said last week 151 South African citizens in Wuhan “have indicated they want to be repatriated”. But the country’s health ministry wants to only bring citizens home without increasing the risk of infection within the country. The ministry has developed plans for a 21-day quarantine for all returned nationals. The process will be carried out over a period of 10 days by South Africa’s military.

However, several African nations have been staunch in their refusal to bring nationals home. Inadequate health care systems and imperfect information have been a major factor in fueling this hesitation.

Kenya, East  Africa’s largest economy, has only 1 doctor per 5,000 citizens and spends around 5.7% of its GDP on healthcare spending, well below the global average. Even if healthcare systems were up to par, researchers are still unsure of how to treat and contain the virus.

On Thursday, Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng told parliament the nation would not be repatriating its estimated 67 Ugandan Students in Wuhan. “ From the public health point of view, it is safer to keep the persons in Wuhan city…countries are strongly advised to assess their capacity to handle the outbreak bearing in mind that repatriation of persons from Wuhan city into the country may be introducing the virus into the country,”, said Aceng.

Ugandan students have made their desire to come home clear.  With reports of food shortages and overcrowded hospitals students are growing fearful of what’s to come.

Last month while in Washington DC, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta made promises to evacuate citizens from Wuhan. To date, no citizens have been evacuated by the Kenyan government.

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