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AFCON 2021 Qualifiers Postponed Due To Coronavirus

Wilfried Zaha of Ivory Coast and Deon Hotto and Ronald Ketjijere during the 2019 Afcon Photo / Visionhaus
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has postponed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches that were supposed to take place this month, indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The continent’s football governing body made the decision on Friday in order to protect the health and safety of stakeholders including players, sponsors, match officials and broadcasters. The games were initially fixed to take place between March 25 and March 31 across various countries in the continent.

Several African governments have taken strong restrictions on travels; lock down, quarantine for people coming from countries affected by the virus. Several clubs refuse now to release their players for the next international matches.

The postponement comes in the wake of the declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and following strict travel restrictions by some African countries to contain the spread of the virus. “Coronavirus has been declared as a pandemic by WHO.

In Africa, only few cases have been reported, but the situation could evolve negatively. Several players, who are supposed to play the next Afcon qualifiers, come from countries that have been severely affected by the virus (Europe, Asia),” the statement read. “Several African governments have taken strong restrictions on travels; lock down, quarantine for people coming from countries affected by the virus.

Several clubs refuse now to release their players for the next international matches. “For the above reasons and after studying carefully the current situation, Caf has decided to postpone the Total Africa Cup of Nations 2021 qualifiers, scheduled from 25 to 31 March 2020.”

Earlier this week, Caf disclosed that inter-club competitions would proceed as scheduled while the Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick revealed plans to move Super Eagles’ players via a chartered flight from their respective base in Europe. Several football competitions including major European leagues and the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying fixtures in Asia and South America have also been suspended due to the spread of the pandemic. Uganda earlier this week returned some travellers who refused ti be quarantined upon arrival in the country.
  • Nigeria clears all index case contacts
  • Ethiopia records first case
  • Kenya, Ghana, Gabon record first cases
  • Tunisia announced six more cases
  • Senegal confirms local transmission
  • DRC records second case
  • Kenya bans all public gatherings
  • South Africa reduces tally by 1, now 16
  • Senegal is rolling out a testing kit
  • Algeria closes all schools after first death
  • Ghana allocates $100m coronavirus fund
  • South Africa cases up to 17
  • Ivory Coast records first case
  • South Africa evacuation jet leaves
  • Uganda to spray high-risk travellers
  • South Africa cases hit 13
  • Ghana, Gabon ban official travel
  • DRC records index case
  • Patient in Morocco dies, 2nd death in Africa
  • Rwanda steps up prevention measures
  • Suspected patient missing in Zimbabwe
  • South Africa’s cases up to seven
  • Nigeria records second case
  • Egypt records first coronavirus death
Half of Africa infected

Africa is seeing a steady spread of the coronavirus across the continent, with five new countries confirming cases on Saturday, so that 24 of Africa’s 54 countries have COVID-19 patients.
Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Namibia and Rwanda reported their first cases Saturday. All were brought to the continent by travelers from overseas, as with almost all the other cases reported in Africa, according to health authorities.

African governments and health officials are racing to try to contain the spread of the new virus on the continent of 1.3 billion people. If the disease spreads locally within the continent, health officials warn that several countries with fragile health systems could see higher mortality rates.

Namibia, which confirmed two cases of people who arrived from Spain, canceled its independence celebrations planned for March 21. The funds that were to have been spent on the independence festivities will now be used to fight the further spread of the coronavirus, said officials.

President Hage Geingob will be sworn into a second term of office, but all other large gatherings have been suspended for the next 30 days. Flights linking Namibia to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany have been suspended for 30 days. In response to two cases it confirmed on Saturday, Mauritania closed schools for a week, reduced border crossing points, placed a ban on public gatherings and called for travelers from countries at risk to voluntarily confine themselves at home. As at Sunday March 15, the African case tally is as follows:
  • Egypt
  • Algeria
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia
  • Senegal
  • Morocco
  • Cameroon
  • Burkina Faso
  • Nigeria
  • Togo
  • DR Congo
  • Congo
  • Seychelles
  • Rwanda
  • Central African Republic
  • Namibia
  • Sudan
  • Mauritania
  • Lesotho
  • Eswatini
  • Kenya
  • Guinea
  • Ghana
  • Gabon
  • Ivory Coast
  • Ethiopia
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