African Tourism Board advice on coronavirus

Should you still travel to Africa? The Executive Committee of the African Tourism Board (ATB) had an emergency meeting today to discuss the impact of coronavirus on travel and tourism to Africa. ATB’s answer in short: Africa is beautiful, amazing, and ready to welcome you with open arms.

Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman of the African Tourism Board, echoed Juergen Steinmetz, CMCO and founding chair of the NGO, together with CEO Doris Woerfel and COO Simba Mandinyenya. The ATB Executive Committee said we need to point out there is a lot being said about coronavirus. It’s a very hot issue, and it’s making headlines. The traveling public is on edge.

To ease this tension, the African Tourism Board is urging travelers and governments as well as travel and tourism stakeholders to read and follow the Emergency Explanation issued today by the World Health Organization.

After you read the emergency explanation, you will understand that there is no reason to shut down tourism. We at ATB are telling travelers to consider Africa as a holiday and vacation destination more than ever.

One isolated case of the coronavirus has been detected in the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Mauritius and Kenya. The virus is well under control in Africa, and all stakeholders and governments must work together to continue for Africa to be a safe, desirable, and healthy destination for visitors. We at ATB will do everything in our power to engage and encourage the conversation, participate in training, and spread awareness to the world.”

The WHO Committee does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.

The WHO Committee believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce the spread of the infection. The Committee agreed that the outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and proposed the following advice to be issued as Temporary Recommendations.

It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country. Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing, and prevention of the onward spread of 2019-nCoVinfection, and to share full data with WHO. Technical advice is available on the WHO website.

Countries are reminded that they are legally required to share information with WHO under the IHR.

Any detection of 2019-nCoV in an animal (including information about the species, diagnostic tests, and relevant epidemiological information) should be reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as an emerging disease.

Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, preventi on of secondary transmission and international spread, and contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as advancing research.

The Committee does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.

Countries must inform WHO about any travel measures taken, as required by the IHR. Countries are cautioned against actions that promote stigma or discrimination, in line with the principles of Article 3 of the IHR.

The Committee asked the Director-General to provide further advice on these matters and, if necessary, to make new case-by-case recommendations, in view of this rapidly evolving situation.

To the global community
As this is a new coronavirus, and it has been previously shown that similar coronaviruses required substantial efforts to enable regular information sharing and research, the global community should continue to demonstrate solidarity and cooperation, in compliance with Article 44 of the IHR (2005), in supporting each other on the identification of the source of this new virus, its full potential for human-to-human transmission, preparedness for potential importation of cases, and research for developing necessary treatment.

Provide support to low- and middle-income countries to enable their response to this event, as well as to facilitate access to diagnostics, potential vaccines, and therapeutics.

Under Article 43 of the IHR, States Parties implementing additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic (refusal of entry or departure of international travelers, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods, and the like, or their delay, for more than 24 hours) are obliged to send to WHO the public health rationale and justification within 48 hours of their implementation. WHO will review the justification and may request countries to reconsider their measures. WHO is required to share with other States Parties the information about measures and the justification received.

The African Tourism Board invites countries and stakeholders to join the discussion currently ongoing on the ATB WhatsApp forum open to members.

Country tourism boards and ministers can join ATB also as an observer without paying a membership fee for the first year.

More information: www.africantourismboard.com

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