COVID-19: Ghanaians In China Safe Amid Discrimination Against Africans

Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Mr Edward Boateng, says no Ghanaian in China has tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to him, reports of alleged Coronavirus-related discrimination against Africans in the Chinese city of Guangzhou was as a result of miscommunication.

A large number of Africans living in Guangzhou were last week subjected to forced coronavirus testing and 14-day self-quarantine regardless of recent travel history, amid fears of imported infection.

Some Africans were also left homeless, after being evicted by landlords and rejected by hotels in the city.

But speaking on Accra-based radio station, Citi FM, on Thursday, Mr Boateng said normalcy had returned to Guangzhou after several engagements between the African authorities and the local authorities.

Giving a genesis of the event, Mr Boateng said whereas Ghana issued an early alert in January, preventing travels into China, Nigeria did not.

According to him, between March 22 and 23, some Nigerians arrived in Guangzhou and failed to self-quarantine even though they had been directed to do so.

He said the hotel authorities where they lodged informed the Guangzhou authorities and in an attempt to get them to self-quarantine, a scuffle happened and they were thrown out of the hotel.

He said when they later subjected themselves to be tested for the virus, their results proved positive and further contact tracing led to an African restaurant owned by a Nigerian who was married to a Chinese.

Mr Boateng explained that the Chinese woman had also visited her hometown for holidays and upon her returned failed to self-quarantine.

He said later tests on the couple came out positive, causing the authorities in Guangzhou to panic.

“So the authorities in Guangzhou panicked in my view and took a knee jerk reaction to test all black Africans regardless of nationality. They were on assumption that most Africans probably go and eat from that restaurant,” he said.

According to Mr Boateng, although the attempt by the Chinese authorities to test Africans for the virus was good, miscommunication on their part led to the alleged discrimination of Africans.

“It was the landlords who were leading the evictions, not the authorities. Now, the landlords fear that if the authorities got to know that they had rented to people without legal status, they will be in trouble. And then, communities started telling people who were living in their neighbourhoods that this person also leaves here and the police will turn up. In that process, I must say that maybe some of the authorities then started implementing it in a very harsh manner. There was a backlash from some of the Ambassadors after these videos started going viral.”

“It then came to the attention of the authorities in Beijing so the authorities immediately dispatched a team to Guangzhou to go and find out what was going on. So as we speak, people are in quarantine, people are being taken care of, some of the people who are in their own flats alone were allowed to stay in their flats alone. I have information from some of my colleagues and compatriots in Guangzhou that they have asked to go home. So the situation is settled,” he said.

Mr Boateng noted that the situation had been brought under control.