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

The World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday identified 13 high-risk African countries for coronavirus, which include Nigeria. Aside Nigeria, the report also listed the other African nations as Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. A statement from WHO, according to the report, said the identified African nations had direct links or a high volume of travel to China. The statement read in part: “WHO has identified 13 top priority countries (Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

“To ensure rapid detection of the novel coronavirus, it is important to have laboratories which can test samples and WHO is supporting countries to improve their testing capacity. “Since this is a new virus, there are currently only two referral laboratories in the African region, which have the reagents needed to conduct such tests.

“However, reagent kits are being shipped to more than 20 other countries in the region, so diagnostic capacity is expected to increase over the coming days. “Active screening at airports has been established in a majority of these countries and while they will be WHO first areas of focus, the organisation will support all countries in the region in their preparation efforts.” According to WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, “It is critical that countries step up their readiness and in particular put in place effective screening mechanisms at airports and other major points of entry to ensure that the first cases are detected quickly.

“The quicker countries can detect cases, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.” However, there were no confirmed cases yet of the potentially fatal virus on the African continent. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Minister of Health, Lia Tadesse, said four possible cases have tested negative for 2019-nCoV, as has been the case elsewhere. The Angolan Health Minister, Sílvia Lutucuta, reported a new suspected case, while Sudanese authorities previously said they were investigating two possible coronavirus infections.

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