The World Health Organisation has identified Nigeria and 12 others as high-risk African countries for the deadly coronavirus disease.
The other countries are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
A statement by the body said the identified African nations have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.
The statement read in part, “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,”
WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said it was critical that countries stepped 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”.
Moeti added, “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.”
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