Coronavirus

AU says Africa feeling coronavirus socioeconomic effects due to strong China ties

The African Union (AU) says despite the continent having only one confirmed case of coronavirus, the effects of the outbreak that have hit China the hardest will be felt in the continent owing to its strong trade ties with the Asian economic giant.

There were 2,345 deaths reported mainly in China as at Saturday with over 75,000 infections.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Saturday attributed this to the close economic ties between African countries and China with about 2 million Chinese living in the continent.

He was speaking during a summit under Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (AU CDC) on a coordinated response to the corona virus epidemic attended by African Ministers of Health in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Africa has confirmed only one case of coronavirus outbreak but Africa is already feeling the economic and social effects because China is one of our strong economic partners,” Faki said.

The ministers discussed a myriad of measures the continent needed to adopt to reduce the chances of the menace spreading in African countries.

The deadly disease has spread across the world, hitting hard some parts of the Middle East like Iran and increasing by more than two-fold to 433 in South Korea.

The meeting happened as fear mounted over the growing spread of infections outside China from the new coronavirus outbreak, as the World Health Organization warned of a shrinking window to stem the spread of the deadly disease.

The warning came as Europe saw its first deaths from the COVID-19 strain, which has now reached more than 25 countries and caused more than a dozen fatalities outside China.

As cases surged outside China, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the “window of opportunity” to contain the international spread of the outbreak was “narrowing”.

He cautioned that if countries did not quickly mobilise to fight the reach of the virus, “this outbreak could go in any direction. It could even be messy.”

The number of new cases in China outside Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, has been generally declining, although new outbreaks have emerged in several prisons and hospitals.

On Saturday Chinese authorities reported nearly 400 fresh cases nationwide, less than half the previous day and just 31 outside Hubei.

A WHO-led team of experts is to visit Wuhan, the capital of the province, on Saturday.