Some people in Africa recalled the bans imposed by most of Europe during the Ebola crisis.
Africa has so far reported relatively few coronavirus cases compared to the other continents, but governments have come under growing pressure to shut down airports and place travel bans to stop Europeans from coming in and possibly bringing the virus, Middle East Eye reported.
At the start of the month, after two French nationals had tested positive for the new coronavirus in Senegal, Senegalese newspapers jumped on the opportunity to parallel between the virus and resentment over France’s political and economic influence in its former colony.
“Is France Coronising Senegal?” Senegalese daily L’evidence asked, specifying “slave trade, economic colonization, epidemiological colonization?”
A daily in Burkina Faso, Le Pays, reporting two cases of Burkinabes coming home from Italy this week, wrote:
"If a dozen countries on the black continent have confirmed cases here and there, the fact remains that the cases revealed are, for the most part, those of European travelers traveling to the African continent."
A South African commentator, Rufaro Samanga, said that economic dependence on the West means governments in Africa are hesitant to put travel bans in place.
“African countries are going to have lesser freedom to put in place travel bans compared to western countries because we are so dependent on things like business, investments and particularly tourism,” said Samanga.
The reversal of the situation has led many to point out the irony of fate. One analyst told Middle East Eye it was "ironic" that Europeans were trying to travel to Africa when African refugees and migrants are basically barred to enter Europe.
Some recalled the bans imposed by most of Europe during the Ebola crisis, including on African countries that had no cases.
While Europeans can enter the majority of African countries visa-free, most African nationals are required to go through an expensive, long, and opaque visa application process that rarely results in a positive result.
A British parliamentary report published last year said that Africans were twice as likely to be rejected for British visas than applicants from other continents.
Yet, the visa option is reserved for those able to afford it. Many young Africans have no other option than risking their lives through the routes by sea via the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or across the Sahara desert, in the hopes of reaching Europe’s shores.