Photo Credit: Cecile Geng
Grand Dakar

African Hoops League Kickoff Postponed

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The Basketball Africa League (BAL) has postponed the start of its inaugural season due to mounting concerns about coronavirus.

“Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed,” BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall said in a statement. “I am disappointed we are not able to tip off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”

The new season was scheduled to begin March 13.

So far, more than 90,000 people have tested positive for the virus, with more than 3,100 fatalities across 77 countries. At the start of the week, there were just three reported cases of the illness confirmed in Africa—one in Egypt, one in Algeria and one in Nigeria, with no deaths. The official number currently stands at five.

More than 1.3 billion people are living on the continent. With a little over a handful of people falling victim to the coronavirus, the hysteria surrounding the global pandemic continues to gain momentum.

Basketball is not the only area to take a hit over the coronavirus. The tourist industry has seen a significant nosedive.

According to the Sunday Times, more than 23% of tour operators reported losing at least 75% of the business they normally received in February and March.

“Coronavirus outbreak has affected safari business because many clients fear the risk of contracting the virus, hence the cancellation or extension of traveling,” said Oima Paul of Four Crane Safaris in Uganda. “Some of the clients say, ‘We want to travel to your country, but we are worried of coronavirus.’ They ask, ‘How safe is your country?'”

And while the virus may not be making its way across Africa countries as speedily as has is through Asia, Europe, and the United States, the numbers continue to increase.

Last Wednesday, Senegal confirmed it has two confirmed cases of coronavirus. The patient was identified as a French man who lives in Senegal who returned home from a skiing holiday in France on February 26, on an Air Senegal flight, Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr told reporters.

Three days later, an 80-year-old man from the Sarcelles suburb of Paris, touched down in Senegal on February 29 and presented himself at a hospital in the capital Dakar on March 2.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah, a public health consultant and visiting scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health, says that valuable lessons were learned during the country’s 2014 Ebola outbreak.

“We had to learn the hard way,” told TIME, referring to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. “Ebola knocked us over, but now we know not to underestimate anything; we know how important it is to prepare.”

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