Rwanda has issued a travel advisory against all non-essential travel to Hubei Province in China as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten to spread outside the vast Asian nation, amid fears that it could spread to the Eastern African region.
Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MINAFFET) on Tuesday issued the advisory amid reports that the first case of the virus could have been registered in Kenya.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation advises against all non-essential travel to Hubei Province (China) due to a novel (new) coronavirus outbreak,”
“Rwanda, through the Ministry of Health, is closely working with the World Health Organization to ensure preparedness of our health professionals in screening and administering care to those with symptoms of the said virus,” a statement from the Ministry said on Tuesday evening.
The Ministry said the travel advisory will be reviewed and updated as needed, based on the latest information on ground and advice from public health authorities.
Several Rwandans on Twitter are urging the government to evacuate Rwandans in China, particularly Rwandan students who are said to be studying in the Chinese Province.
A video posted by a one Oscar Mizero shows an unidentified Rwandan student in Wuhan, walking on the streets of Wuhan, with a mask and scarf covering his mouth and nose, indicating that he was in the province.
“In the region where Coronavirus has been reported in China, there are a number of Rwandan students studying there and they have indicated that they are struggling with life given the situation. Can’t something be done to ensure that they are evacuated from the province and allowed to continue their education elsewhere?” Mizero responded to the advisory.
In the video, the heavily breathing male student is seen walking on nearly empty streets, stating that he had to get out and buy some food since he had run out of supplies.
“I ran out of food and eventually had to go out but the disease here is very serious. I wearing a mask with a scarf over it. I feel scared. I am going to buy some supplies to stock up here at school. There is nobody outside,”
“Everybody is indoors. Stuff is serious. China needs prayers,” the unidentified student said, filming empty streets of Wuhan.
In another tweet, another user @GomezMarshall2 who lives in China urges the government to evacuate Rwanda citizens from Wuhan since other countries are doing the same.
“Japan, France, USA among other countries who have sent their aeroplanes to evacuate their citizen’s in WUHAN after the virus spreads So [please] @RwandaGov @RwandaMFA @FlyRwandAir do the same let’s bring our own home and save em (sic) we’ve got family and friends [there]. Thank you,” he tweeted.
Region on alert.
Rwanda issued a travel advisory a day reports indicated that the first case of suspected Coronavirus could have been registered in Nairobi, Kenya, after a student arrived in Kenya from China on Tuesday was isolated in the Kenyan capital with signs similar to those of Coronavirus.
According to Kenya Airways which flew the suspected patient, a decision was made by health authorities to isolate him upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) from where his was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) isolation ward.
It is feared that the quarantined student could be infected with the virus which has so far claimed 130 people in China and affected another 6, 000 by Wednesday.
The Kenyan national carrier said that the student had been cleared to travel by Chinese health authorities at Guangzhou Airport but upon arrival at JKIA, a decision was made to quarantine him after he exhibited coronavirus-like symptoms, as a precautionary measure.
The student, whose name has not been revealed, is said to be in his early 20s and is currently undergoing tests to ascertain if he has the deadly virus.
Speaking to the Daily Nation, KNH Communications Manager Hezekiel Gikambi said that when the student arrived at JKIA and was flagged by the infectious disease units at the airport.
Experts fear that the virus could have made its way to the African continent given the heavy travel between China and the continent, with concerns that most African countries cannot be able to contain the virus which China and WHO are struggling to rein in given its aggressiveness.
The U.S-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the virus could spread outside China and wreak havoc in other countries if not contained. Countries including Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria are on high alert to avert a possible outbreak of the virus.
World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China on December 31, 2019, but upon checking, the virus did not match any other known virus, which raised concern because when a virus is new, WHO does not know how it affects people.
“One week later, on 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV,” a statement from WHO reads.
WHO says it has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day it was informed, to learn more about the virus, how it affects the people who are sick with it, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.
“Because this is a coronavirus, which usually causes respiratory illness, WHO has advice to people on how to protect themselves and those around them from getting the disease,” the global body said.
Last week, the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) cautioned Rwandans against the virus by taking precautionary measures and report suspicious cases that could be similar to Coronavirus.
Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of the RBC, said that simple measures such person hygiene and using disinfectants can put the virus at bay while avoiding body contact and staying indoors for suspected patients until authorities are informed is very important.
At least 47 cases confirmed in 16 other countries, including Thailand, France, the U.S and Australia, among others, but no deaths have been recorded outside China.