'Traumatized' Africans stranded by coronavirus plead to be brought home

Margaret Ntale Namusisi's three daughters call Uganda home.

But right now, they are stuck in quarantine at their university in Wuhan in China.

The epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Initially, they were fairly relaxed about their circumstances.

But nearly one month on - with no help from their government - they remain under lockdown in a crowded apartment, with orders to stay indoors with the windows closed.

Food, funds and morale are running low.

And their mother is distraught at home.


"I personally, I wake up at 3am every morning. Sit in my bed and start texting them. 'Hello, good morning' before they answer me, I am worried are they there?

"Our girls cry, our children crying every day. The prices of goods have escalated because of low supplies and they can't, you know, they are stranded there, traumatized. We too are traumatized."

Many countries have flown their citizens home from China's quarantined Hubei province.

But no sub-Saharan African countries have done so, leaving thousands stranded - and unsure if their governments are willing or even able to help.

Some governments have said they plan to send money.

But, many countries including Senegal, Ivory Coast and Uganda, say they do not have the resources to look after coronavirus patients.

Coronavirus is also affecting life back on the continent.

South Africa sells more than 90% of its lobster catch to China.

But now exports have ground to a halt due to the outbreak, demand has taken a huge hit.

For fisherman Charles America, the situation needs urgent resolution.


"The disruption now because of the Coronavirus has added to our problem because we are stuck now. We sit with the resource but we cannot export, we cannot convert it to money. Government usually in other countries would step in, they would intervene, they would come in and say 'this is an emergency here - let us do this'."

Previously, some fishermen could expect to earn around $10 per pound of live exported lobster.

Now, that price has plummeted by more than 50% on the local market now.

Exports show no sign of resuming any time soon.

And although the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention last week called on governments to bring Africans home, it proved little comfort for those stranded in China - or their families back home who have received little or no communication from their governments.