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Mayor Still Plans to Visit African Sister City

Despite coronavirus outbreak Tornek pressing ahead with plans to visit Dakar-Plateau, Senegal

Published on Monday, March 2, 2020 | 1:00 am
 
Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek (left) with Dakar-Plateau Mayor Alioune Ndoye at a ceremony at Pasadena City Hall in June, 2019

Despite worldwide concerns over the coronavirus, Mayor Terry Tornek told Pasadena Now he still plans to visit Pasadena’s sister city in Africa.

Tornek is scheduled to lead a delegation to Dakar-Plateau, Senegal, Pasadena’s African sister city, from March 10-19.

“We’ve talked about it,” Tornek said. “We’ve talked with members of the delegation. We’ll see what happens. Obviously we’ll continue to monitor things. Africa’s probably the least impacted continent of the outbreak. The plan is to continue with the trip.”

At least 2,700 people have died from the virus according to Centers for Disease Control which also said that more than 80,000 people are infected by the virus.

On Saturday and Sunday the first two U.S. fatalities from the virus were recorded in Washington. At least 22 people in the US are battling the virus.

There have been at least two known cases of community spread in California, where authorities have been unable to trace where the patients contracted the virus.

So far there has been only one confirmed case of the virus in Africa.

West Africa is no stranger to deadly epidemics — during the 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak, more than 11,000 people died. That battle could be helping officials there now. Government officials were quick to respond when reports of the coronavirus began surfacing.

The Pasadena delegation will tour Dakar for educational and cultural purposes. The trip will include meetings with officials and ceremonial activities, as well as a tour of the city of Dakar and visits to its open-air markets, museums, cathedrals and mosques.

The Pasadena City Council approved Dakar-Plateau as Pasadena’s sixth sister city – and the first one in Africa – in August 2018, following an exploratory delegation to Senegal led by Boualem Bousseloub and Pasadena City Councilmember John Kennedy in March 2018.

Dakar-Plateau has a population of nearly 37,000 and is one of 19 districts of Senegal’s capital of greater Dakar, serving as its political, financial and commercial center. Dakar is the westernmost city on Africa’s mainland, with a population of 1 million.

“There’s been a lot of work done on both ends and it would be a real disappointment to postpone it now,” Tornek said. “I don’t think it’s unsafe or irresponsible to travel. If circumstances change over the next week, then obviously we’ll have to reevaluate. But right now based on the best information we have and talking to Dr. Goh and talking to people in Dakar we’re planning on pressing ahead.”

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