Authorities in Guangzhou, home to Asia's largest African community, are doing all they can to minimise the risks of an Ebola outbreak after the deadly virus claimed more than 1,300 lives in West Africa since February.
In neighbouring Hong Kong, there was a brief health scare earlier this month when a 32-year-old Nigerian man staying at one of the many guest houses in Chungking Mansions was taken to hospital with early symptoms of the disease, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Test results confirmed the man did not have Ebola.
However, this was enough to alarm Hong Kong authorities, due to the territory's proximity to Guangzhou.
According to Guangdong authorities, there are about 30,000 Africans residing in the province but it was estimated the true population could be as high as 300,000, 90 per cent of whom are overstaying their visas. Most are foreign exchange students or traders eyeing the mainland's vast and affordable market.
Early this month, the World Health Organisation declared the epidemic in West Africa as an international public health emergency needing a coordinated global response. About 1,350 people have died of the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The virus spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. There is no approved cure or vaccine for Ebola, but experimental drugs have resulted in improved health for two patients in the US.
In Guangzhou, six hospitals have been designated as facilities to admit suspected cases of Ebola.
China News Service also reported this week that a third batch of medical specialists - an 11-person team including nine doctors from Shenzhen - had been sent to Africa to help contain the outbreak.
A spokesman for the Guangdong provincial health department said the government was confident of containing the virus after battling both the highly contagious severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and avian flu.
"Ebola virus spreads via bodily fluids and close contact, which is easier to contain from a public health perspective," he said, noting that the Sars and bird flu viruses are airborne.
"Of course, incidental [Ebola] risks still exist as it could be easily imported. But we are confident of keeping it under control in terms of prevention and quarantine, especially as we have already dispatched experts to Africa to aid [in] the outbreak," he added.
Customs and quarantine authorities at the Huanggang border crossing between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, are also stepping up efforts to prevent an Ebola outbreak by setting up handling protocols and drills.
While African communities in China have not been subjected to extraordinary checks by police, airport authorities are stepping up checks on passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken countries.
Guangzhou has more direct flights from Africa than most cities in China. As well as a daily direct flight to Guangzhou from Kenya's capital, Nairobi, there are about 110 flights every week from West African countries affected by the outbreak.
At Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport, customs officers wearing protective gear including masks and gloves have implemented more stringent screening of passengers and luggage.
Africans who have lived in Guangzhou for years are also starting their own community initiatives.
Guinea community leader Barry Sultane said in a recent interview that the African communities remained vigilant to prevent a potential outbreak.
"The local African community is cautious but not scared, as fear does not resolve anything," he said.
"We are telling people to take anyone sick to hospital immediately for testing, especially [if] it's Ebola virus-related symptoms."
There are de facto community leaders representing each African nation in Guangzhou, providing help and guidance to countrymen who run into trouble while living or trading in China.
Sultane said African community leaders in Guangzhou had since early this month hosted regular meetings on Ebola-related issues, but local authorities had yet to contact them or take significant measures on a community level.
"For the coming days, we are going to work out more stringent measures on the quarantine front if someone tests positive," he said.
It is evident that Guangdong authorities are doing all they can to prevent an Ebola outbreak by stepping up public health and border control measures.
Local media are also running stories informing the public not to panic due to the low risk of Ebola spreading.
The authorities could also consider using existing social networks to liaise with Guangzhou's African community leaders. Together, they can formulate more refined measures, especially tracking quarantine trails (monitoring those who have been in contact with people requiring quarantine) when a suspected case is spotted.
With Ebola an international emergency, many are looking at how Guangzhou will handle any potential outbreak.
Authorities should avoid racial profiling by providing training to law-enforcement and public health officers to prevent any untoward incidents that could put the city in a bad light.