Ebola virus

Guangzhou gives expat population figures in latest effort to dispel Ebola fears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 December, 2014, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 December, 2014, 5:29pm

Authorities in Guangzhou have released details of the make-up of its expatriate population in an effort to soothe concerns that its “huge” African community could bring the deadly Ebola virus to the city.

Japanese, South Koreans, Americans, Indians and Russians make up most of Guangzhou’s 118,000 expat population, the city’s public security bureau said.

Expats from African countries numbered just 16,000 as of October 25 – smaller than the 57,000 from Asian countries and 22,000 from Europe – and most of them are from Nigeria and Egypt.

Most of the city’s expats live in the Yuexiu, Tianhe, Baiyun, Haizhu and Panyu districts, the bureau added.

Guangzhou authorities had earlier last month clarified the size of its African expat community after rumours started circulating that there were as many as half a million African people living in the city.

Several countries in West Africa are dealing with a widespread Ebola epidemic, and more than 6,000 people – mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – have died from the disease since March, according to the World Health Organisation. No Ebola cases have yet been reported in Asia.

Guangzhou has 47,000 foreign permanent residents who have lived in the city for more than half a year, and Africans make up only about 4,000 of that number, Yangcheng Evening News reported.

Asked about countermeasures Guangzhou was taking against a potential Ebola outbreak, deputy mayor Xie Xiaodan said during a press conference in late October that it was a misconception that the city had a large African population.

“[Many of China’s African residents] come to Guangzhou for business during the day and return [to cities around Guangzhou] during the night,” the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted Xie as saying.

The city’s entry and exit administration chief Liu Wubin told Yangcheng in a recent interview that Guangzhou’s African population came under the spotlight because the media had played up some crime cases in the city that involved these people.