February 1, 2020
Nigeria and twelve other nations have been listed as high-risk African countries for coronavirus by the World Health Organisation.
Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia were identified as African nations with direct links or a high volume of travel to China.
The statement read in parts;
“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.
“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”.
WHO is already scaling up novel coronavirus preparedness efforts in the African region and supporting countries to implement recommendations outlined by the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee which met in Geneva, Switzerland on January 30. It also stated that the faster the virus is detected, the quicker it can be contained to ensure it does not overwhelm health systems of the affected countries.