The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday listed Ethiopia among 13 African countries identified as high-risk for the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The identified African countries have direct links or a high volume of travel to China, according to a statement released by WHO.
The other countries listed are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, the statement said. Until now, there is no confirmed case of the new corona virus disease in Africa.
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, WHO said.
“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, Matshidiso Moeti (MD).
Until 30 January 2020, there were 7818 confirmed cases globally, with the vast majority in China, WHO stated. China’s health authority authorities, on its part, said today that 259 people had died and 11,791 people were now confirmed to have contracted the virus, surpassing the number in the 2002-03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS.
Two days ago, coronavirus declared a global emergency by WHO, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China. The WHO, on the same day, said there had been 98 cases in 18 other countries, but no deaths.
“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries,” said WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom.
The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems, including Ethiopia.