The travel bans and restrictions goes against the advice of the WHO, which has urged countries to not apply blind travel restrictions in a way that would impact trade and travel.
WHO Africa’s Dr. Mary Stephen told CNN that many African countries, which were initially screening passengers from countries with outbreaks and also placing travelers from virus-hit countries on quarantine, may now be making travel ban decisions based on panic.
“The outbreak is evolving. It used to be China and now it is Italy and other countries are following after it. So we must be careful because we have seen an increasing number of countries imposing travel restrictions, and that means their perception of risks have changed. But have they done a risk assessment to their countries or are they just implementing those measures based on their perception?” she said.
Stephen, who is with the organization’s emergencies team, said African countries need to enhance their capacities to detect early, isolate and track all patients’ contacts and effectively manage the sick to curb the spread of corona virus.
She added that airport screening and a robust surveillance system were effective ways to detect cases from travelers without symptoms.
“WHO continues to advise countries not to impose travel restrictions but countries also have their sovereignty,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria joins other African countries that are shutting their airports and land borders to keep out people from countries that have a high number of coronavirus cases.
Tunisia on Monday suspended all international flights and closed the country’s land borders in an attempt to contain the outbreak. It also banned gathering in markets and other places and introduced a nighttime curfew from 6 p.m to 6 a.m from Wednesday.
Sudan also sealed off all sea ports, land crossings and airports, a spokesman for Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council, Mohamed Al-Faki Suleiman, said in a press statement.
Hundreds of international flights have been canceled, schools have closed and travelers from coronavirus-hit countries have been restricted or, in some cases, banned from visiting some countries in Africa.