Nigeria, 12 others African countries, at risk of Coronavirus – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified Nigeria and twelve other counties as high-risk African countries for the Coronavirus epidemic.

According to a statement from WHO, the identified African nations are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

WHO said these countries have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

“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 organization will support all countries in the region in their preparation efforts,” the statement read in parts.

The statement further noted: “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.”

According to WHO, 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.

This comes a day after WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the disease.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has sent out a guidance note to all countries on how to prepare for a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.

“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,” said Dr Moeti.

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