Coronavirus: WHO lists Nigeria among high-risk African nations

The World Health Organisation has identified Nigeria among 13 high-risk African countries for coronavirus.

The other countries on the list include Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

A statement from WHO on Friday 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.

As of 30 January 2020, there were 7818 confirmed cases globally, with the vast majority in China, WHO stated.

However, Africa recorded its first case of coronavirus on Friday as Botswana Government revealed that the country registered its first-ever suspected case of the deadly virus.

A statement on its twitter handle and signed by the nation’s Director, Health Services, Malaki Tshipayagae said the suspected case was registered on Thursday.

It said the suspected case was registered at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport upon arrival using Ethiopian Airways from China.

To prevent the spread in Africa, WHO recommends that people should practice good hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices. These include washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing, avoiding close contact with anyone with flu-like symptoms, cooking food, especially meat, thoroughly and avoiding direct unprotected contact with live animals.

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