The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified 13 high-risk African countries for coronavirus.
They are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
A statement from WHO said the identified African nations 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 WHO said in a statement.
“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,” added WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
“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.”
As yet, there are no confirmed cases of the potentially fatal virus on the African continent.
Ethiopian Minister of Health Lia Tadesse said four possible cases there have tested negative for 2019-nCoV, as has been the case elsewhere.
Angolan health minister Sílvia Lutucuta reports a new suspected case there, while Sudanese authorities previously said they were investigating two possible coronavirus infections.
China’s latest update on the coronavirus epidemic, issued at midnight Thursday, listed 213 fatalities with a new total of 9,692 confirmed cases. There were 15,238 suspected cases along with 113,579 close contacts under health monitoring, according to the National Health Commission.
WHO’s 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 international disease spread, one that requires immediate international action and coordinated response to reduce the global public health risk.