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 that has been on lockdown for several weeks now as authorities try to curtail the transmission of the virus.

There has been a rapid growth in the number of African students across China both in the mainland and Hong Kong as the Chinese government has deepened economic and cultural ties with African countries over the last two decades.

This has included an increase in scholarships offered so much so China has overtaken the UK and US as the top destination for students from anglophone African countries. There were nearly 5,000 African students in Hubei province, where Wuhan city is located.

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South African, Ugandan and Kenyan students among others in Wuhan have been rallying on their government for an evacuation since the onset of the coronavirus’ spread.

Last month, a number of South Africans rallied together, created a petition on Change.org, garnering a total of 720 signatures.

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So far nine African countries have evacuated students from Wuhan including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, Mauritania, Morocco, Seychelles, South Africa and Tunisia.

The problem for many countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa has been a lack of financial resources, notes Hannah Ryder of Beijing-based Development Reimagined.

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South African, Ugandan and Kenyan students among others in Wuhan have been rallying on their government for an evacuation since the onset of the coronavirus’ spread.

Last month, a number of South Africans rallied together, created a petition on Change.org, garnering a total of 720 signatures. So far nine African countries have evacuated students from Wuhan including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, Mauritania, Morocco, Seychelles, South Africa and Tunisia.

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The problem for many countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa has been a lack of financial resources, notes Hannah Ryder of Beijing-based Development Reimagined.

Ghana has not ruled out the evacuation of its citizens from China, but has not yet announced plans to do so. Reports from Wuhan have emerged claiming that some of Ghanaian students in Wuhan were at risk of starving during the lockdown. The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) called for the immediate evacuation of Ghanaians in Wuhan.

“If it is indeed money dictating the differences between Africans remaining thousands of miles from home under challenging lockdown conditions and those that can quarantine for 14-21 days and be reunited with families and friends soon after, that’s a sad state of affairs,” says Development Reimagined’s Ryder.

Public health analysts believe the solution for East and West African countries might be working together to evacuate and quarantine citizens upon their return.

Though some countries may struggle to deal with coronavirus cases individually, resource and information sharing might offer added support, they argue.

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During the Ebola epidemic lack of communication between West African governments aggravated Ebola’s spread. Having learned from the epidemic, a number of African governments have invested in National Public Health Institutes that have strengthened the capacity for “outbreak response”.

(H/T Medium)

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