Coronavirus: Shoe on the other foot as Africans turn away Europeans

Nii Ntreh Mar 18, 2020 at 02:00pm

March 18, 2020 at 02:00 pm | News, Opinions & Features

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

March 18, 2020 at 02:00 pm | News, Opinions & Features

Kenya has banned travel from many parts of Western Europe. Photo Credits: Theexchange,africa

Two Italians were prohibited from entering Ghana from Italy after Accra issued a travel ban against people from countries with high rates of coronavirus infection.

On Tuesday, Ghana’s Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the two Italians were “in the air” from their country when Ghana’s government communicated its prohibition with the airline.

“Last night (Monday night) there were two Italians, who it was clear they were coming from the epicenter …even though the aircraft was still in the air, we had to make arrangements at the airport to ensure that they did not get off the aircraft and they are returned to their originating destination,” Nkrumah said.

The prohibition was supposed to have started on Tuesday afternoon but the minister said the government thought it wise to go with an early “soft enforcement”.

Ghana is not the only country on the continent closing its borders to Europeans for fear of the spread of COVID-19.

In these times unprecedented in the last century, Europeans in some of the worst-hit countries are the ones seemingly escaping coronavirus infection by traveling to African countries.

Last week, Tunisia deported Italian tourists who refused to self-isolate in safety precautions against the spread of the coronavirus in the north African country. The 30 tourists were sent back after just a week.

They had arrived on the Tunisian coast of Tabarka via sea voyage. They also refused a compulsory 14-day quarantine measure by Tunisian health officials.

In a similar fashion, Uganda’s Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, was quoted as saying her government “has decided to ask travelers from the affected countries not to come to Uganda because the high cases they are reporting can easily be imported” into the east African country.

Since last week, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Cameroon among others have all indicated that travelers from Europe are not welcome.

For many people, this development seems like a crude joke as it represents an opposite reality of a trend before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

For over three decades, it has been Africans who have found it difficult to emigrate to European countries. The issue of African immigration has become a focal point for Europe’s far-right parties.

In this scenario, where the tables have turned, one is not arguing that much has changed in the socioeconomic realities in Europe and Africa.

But however shortlived the coronavirus crisis is, it has exposed the ignorance and arrogance of European nationalism and superiority and invited us to cooperate on a wider global scale in all things.

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