24 August 2019
As Guangzhou is home to a significant number of African expatriates, people are on guard against potential Ebola cases. Photo: Southern Metropolis Daily
As Guangzhou is home to a significant number of African expatriates, people are on guard against potential Ebola cases. Photo: Southern Metropolis Daily

African visitors stoke Ebola fears in Guangzhou

Concerns are growing in Guangzhou about potential Ebola cases in the metropolis, given the significant number of African expatriates and visitors in the city and their alleged poor living conditions and hygiene, a media report said Thursday.

There are about 200,000 Africans, south Asians and central Asians living in Guangzhou. Of those, about 1,300 were said to have come in the first ten days of this month from West Africa where many people died of Ebola recently, Sing Tao Daily said.

The Africans mostly live in areas near Xiaobei Road, Xia Tang West Road, Kuangquan sub-district and Dengfeng sub-district.

Guangzhou residents have pointed out that the areas can be often been seen overflowing with rubbish. Some Africans do not hesitate to spit on the roads, while some meat vendors also add to the problem as they leave the blood and organs from animal carcasses spilling into the drains.

The government has done some campaign work, including handing out brochures in Arabic and French, to urge people to keep the surroundings clean but it doesn’t seem to be enough, the report said.

Some residents living nearby said they try to avoid the areas that have a high concentration of Africans. Meanwhile, some homeowners are said to be refusing to rent their properties to African nationals.

Pharmacy staff is frightened when Africans come to buy medicines. A worker at a medical store said his shop is sterilized thrice a day, and that they also bought some ultra-violet lights for disinfection purposes.

Some people, however, dismiss the fears, saying the concerns are overblown. Allegations of poor personal hygiene smack of racial prejudice rather than anything else, they say. One person also pointed out that there are enough checks at the border, making it difficult for any Ebola-carrying patient to enter the city.

Meanwhile, across the border in Hong Kong – which is not too far from Guangzhou — the government launched on Wednesday a preparedness and response plan for Ebola.

Under the plan, a three-tier response level, which is adopted for the preparedness plans of influenza pandemic and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, have been put in place. The three response levels, namely alert, serious and emergency, are based on the risk assessment of the Ebola disease that may affect Hong Kong and its health impact on the community, according to a government statement.

Secretary for Food and Health, Ko Wing-man, has visited immigration facilities in the city for checks. Authorities will issue an alert if any West Africa visitor warrants tests. Ko also visited the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Infectious Disease Centre, and said that doctors from medicine and paediatrics departments will have to help on potential Ebola cases if needed, Sing Tao said.

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