Several African nations roll out measures to fight virus

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A Kenyan woman wears a surgical face mask on a busy street in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 13, 2020. Authorities in Kenya said Friday that a Kenyan woman who recently traveled from the United States via London has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the first case in the East African country. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi)

JOHANNESBURG – Several African countries have announced sweeping restrictions to try to contain the steady spread of the coronavirus, which has reached at least 25 of Africa's 54 countries.

South Africa, Kenya, Senegal and Mauritania are among the countries that have imposed travel restrictions and closed schools.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster.

“This is a grave emergency and given the scale and speed of its spread, no country is immune,” said Ramaphosa, addressing the nation Sunday night. He said the country has 61 cases, including local transmission of COVID-19, and he expected the number to increase dramatically

“We must take urgent and drastic measures to reduce the impact on the health of South Africans and our economy,” said Ramaphosa, announcing a ban on the arrival of travelers from countries with the disease including China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Spain, the United States and Britain.

Ramaphosa said all schools will be closed for 30 days from Wednesday and he banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people. South Africa will close 35 of its 53 land borders and will intensify screening at its international airports.

The decline in international trade and tourism has already negatively affected South Africa's economy, which he said is about to experience demands in expenditure for increased health measures.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced restrictions preventing travelers coming from countries that have cases of coronavirus, saying only Kenyan citizens and those with residence permits would be permitted to enter, but would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. He also said all schools in Kenya would close for three weeks.