Coronavirus: WHO lists Nigeria, 12 others as top-risk African nations

The World Health Organization has identified 13 African countries at high risk for coronavirus.

These are Algeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

A WHO statement said that the identified African countries have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

“WHO has identified 13 priority countries (Algeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) which have direct links or a high volume of trips to China.

“To ensure rapid detection of the new coronavirus, it is important to have laboratories capable of testing samples and WHO is helping countries to improve their testing capacity. As this is a new virus, it is not There are currently only two reference laboratories in the African region which have the reagents necessary to carry out such tests.

“However, reagent kits are being shipped to more than 20 other countries in the region, so diagnostic capacity is expected to increase in the coming days. Active screening at airports has been implemented in the majority of these countries and while they will first be the WHO focus areas, the organization will support all countries in the region in their preparedness efforts, ”said WHO in a statement.

“It is essential that countries intensify their preparation and in particular put in place effective screening mechanisms at airports and other major entry points to ensure that the first cases are detected quickly,” added the regional director of the WHO for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

“The sooner countries can detect cases, the faster they can contain an epidemic and ensure that the new coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.”

For the moment, there are no confirmed cases of potentially fatal virus on the African continent.

Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse said four possible cases there had tested negative for 2019-nCoV, as has been the case elsewhere.

Angolan Minister of Health Sílvia Lutucuta reports a new suspicious case there, while Sudanese authorities have previously said they are investigating two possible coronavirus infections.

China’s latest update on the coronavirus epidemic, released at midnight on Thursday, recorded 213 deaths with a new total of 9,692 confirmed cases. There were 15,238 suspected cases and 113,579 close contacts under medical supervision, according to the National Health Commission.

The WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday.

The PHEIC  is a designation for an “extraordinary event” with the potential for the spread of international disease, which requires immediate international action and a coordinated response to reduce the global risk to public health.

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