Coronavirus shakes up politicians across Africa

With Botswana's head of state and Ivory Coast's prime minister in self-quarantine and many government ministers infected across the continent, African politicians have suddenly found themselves on the coronavirus front line.

Their plight has triggered little sympathy on social media, where many note that in Africa, disease is typically a problem for the poor, not the wealthy and influential.

"People say this (coronavirus) is the disease of the global elites," said Ivorian political scientist Jean Alabro.

"People who travel or are in contact with such people are the most affected -- in the early days, in any case. In Africa, that means politicians."

"Nobody is spared by this virus -- it infects heads of state, government ministers and members of parliament… (and) ordinary citizens," said Ablasse Ouedraogo, a Burkina opposition figure.

Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who plans to stand in a presidential election in October, announced on Twitter that he had placed himself in voluntary confinement "after being in contact with a person declared positive."

A source close to the Ivorian government said a dozen "senior figures" have gone into self-isolation.

In Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast's northern neighbour, Thursday's cabinet meeting was held by video-conference to protect President Roch Marc Christian Kabore from infection.

The precaution came after the death of the second deputy speaker of the national assembly, Rose-Marie Compaore, and the infection of Foreign Minister Alpha Barry and no fewer than six other ministers.

- Nigeria scare -

In Nigeria, the political elite "is in a panic mode following the confirmed case" of the cabinet director (to President Muhammadu Buhari)," according to a source close to the presidency.

A slew of senior Nigerian politicians, including the vice president and several state governors, have announced that they are in self-isolation after contact with two people with the virus, including Buhari's right-hand man, Abba Kyari.


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