The deadly coronavirus (now renamed COVID-19) has been spreading throughout the world since the first outbreak occurred during December in Wuhan, a city in eastern China.The respiratory virus has infected 183,128 people worldwide and caused 7175 deaths.
There are now around 400 known cases in Africa. Whilst no country is yet to suffer a major outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, several African States have started imposing far-reaching restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. South Africa has declared a national disaster and announced a ban on travel from the worst-affected countries and Kenya has tightened entry restrictions for all foreign nationals.
As governments are acting swiftly to contain the virus, employers across Africa must now also start taking action to ensure they are prepared for any escalation in cases in their respective countries. From a legal perspective, we expect significant amounts of legislation to be introduced, enforced or updated in the coming weeks to deal with COVID-19. It is important that employers are able to track and map this accordingly.
Currently, across the continent, there are robust health and safety measures in place. These require employers to pro-actively provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees. In many countries such as South Africa and Nigeria these laws are strictly enforced. If the outbreak continues to spread, organisations will need to continually review procedures and local legislation to ensure they are acting within the law when responding to COVID-19.
Laws regarding your ability to subject employees to medical examination and whether legislation requires self-isolation to qualify as paid sick leave or unpaid leave vary greatly across jurisdictions. As part of our commitment to support businesses operating across Africa and to help you navigate this complicated environment, we have launched a complimentary COVID-19 module on the Afriwise platform.
This will help to assist you as you prepare and respond to the potential legal consequences of COVID-19 in the African jurisdictions in which you operate.
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