The China Coronavirus outbreak has shaken the world with fears of its spread looming.
Global markets have witnessed investors pulling their resources while calculating the economic impacts of the outbreak.
As China dines with Africa on the economic lines of trade, investment, and industrialization, there are rising concerns of whether the continent can contain the virus, which has already taken over 170 lives, with 7,000 confirmed cases and spread in about 15 countries.
There are growing concerns about the impact of the outbreak on Africa’s economies, earlier this week, a broad sell-off was witnessed in the global markets, affecting South Africa’s rand performance.
Theafricareport indicated that Johannesburg Stock Exchange plunged by as much as 2.6 per cent on Monday 28, the steepest decline in more than eight months.
South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, and Tanzania are some of the vibrant partners of China, whose economies rely on exporting commodities from the industrialized economy in the world.
Economic ramifications of the epidemic could rattle tourism in South Africa and Tanzania, particularly impacting the investment waged by Tanzania, including upgrading its scheduled flights to China, promoting and attracting visitors from the country.
Earlier this week the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) said that over 10,000 tourists destined for Tanzania have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Tourism is the biggest source of foreign exchange in Tanzania, famed for its wildlife adventures and exotic beaches.
On the contrary, Kenya Airways is still weighing options to suspend its flights to China following the outbreak, even as British Airways suspended its flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
The stoppage of air traffic from China to Africa could seriously affect other nations apart from tourist-hotspots destinations in the continent, with the amount of investment placed within the flights to several trading hubs, learning institutions and leisure spots in China, the sector could be in jeopardy.
However, this week’s sell-off in South Africa (China’s largest trading partner in Africa) has proved that the reliant of Africa on Chinese markets is a liability, and also impacts other African currencies, in Nigeria, and Kenya.
Also, goods exported to China could face hardship in demand and supply, as millions of consumers are locked out and worried about health-care expenses related to the outbreak, which trims consumer spending.
This means that immediate impacts could be seen on African agricultural exports like Namibian beef, Rwandan coffee, Kenyan tea and South African wine and citrus.
With the current torrents of investment executed between China and African nations totaling at $ 299 billion (in Chinese investment and contracts in sub-Saharan Africa) from 2005 to 2018, according to China Investment Global Tracker, it is time for Africa to revisit its investment road map and take contingencies, particularly diversifying its trade and development partners.
Just like in the Ebola outbreak, Africa is on its heels in working jointly to combat the coronavirus, in its points of entries and inland.
South Africa, China’s long-standing trade partner in the continent, has placed strong measures to contain the coronavirus. The South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases has assured the country that, close systems have been put to rapidly detect and respond any important cases reaching South Africa’s borders.
According to a recent report by French news outlet RFI, In Ivory Coast, Kenya and Mauritius, three travelers from China are in isolation, while awaiting results of their tests. Despite no serious confirmed cases, Africa is not taking any chances.
Tanzania has already established a treatment zone in three regions with airport facilities, Kenya, Mauritius, and Ethiopia—received people (Four cases in Ethiopia, one case in Mauritius and Kenya) with coronavirus-like symptoms and reacted swiftly, proving that—their health surveillance systems at points of entry are effective.
Uganda—which was also ravaged by Ebola cases, has taken precautions including, designating hospitals for case management, urging travelers from China destined for Uganda to halt their travel in the interim, while isolating those arriving in Uganda from China for two weeks.
The Ministry of Health in Uganda, has unequivocally stated that it is increasing surveillance of suspected cases of coronavirus at entry points especially at Entebbe International Airport.
African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, alerted on why the continent needs to stay on its high-alert, as China and Africa air traffic have intensified by 630 per cent in the last decade, as reported by Quartz Africa.
“Ethiopia alone counts about six flights that leave Addis Ababa every day. Knowing how quickly virus spread across the world, there is no doubt that the continent is at high risk because of the large movement of people between Africa and China,” Nkengasong told RFI.
In Liberia—a nation that saw a serious number of deaths from the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015, has taken its own path towards containing the outbreak.
According to Dr. Mosoka Fallah, the director of Liberia’s National Public Health Institute, the structures that were built to contain the Ebola outbreak, five years ago, are currently being used to “prepare for the coronavirus even though they are two different strains”.
“At our airports, we are checking all the people coming from China. We also have a database of everyone who has been in China since December and we are trying to track them down to see how they are doing,” he added.
Kenyan aviation authorities noted that flights from Kenya to China are now closely and frequently monitored, while the national carrier has not taken a full-hold of its flights to China destinations.
“We are monitoring this on a very regular basis, as frequently as every hour. We will make a decision in collaboration with the government on when and if when we should suspend the flights,” KQ acting chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka was noted by The East Africa on Wednesday.
Also, Kilavuka said “This is very important to us, not just for the China route but an entire network. It is a global issue and airlines are looking at it very seriously. We have taken precautionary measures right from boarding, to ensure that we do not allow on board anyone who hasn’t been cleared by the port health bureau of China. So, anyone from Wuhan city in China will not be allowed on our flights,”
Business Insider has indicated that about 16 airlines have suspended flights to china amid the outbreak, European, American and some Asia flights are some of the flights that make up the list.
According to CNN, the number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus has taken over the 2003 SARS outbreak inside mainland China.
In that context, as of Wednesday, there were 6,061 confirmed cases of the virus in mainland China, including 132 deaths, according to Chinese officials. The number of cases grew by around 1,500 from Tuesday, a more than 30% increase. The figures do not include Hong Kong and Macau, both of which have reported a small number of cases.
There have also been at least 91 cases of the virus reported outside mainland China.