Coronavirus in Africa: With six new suspected cases in Sudan and Equatorial Guinea, here is how the continent is preparing for the deadly outbreak

  • Africa got its first suspected case of the killer infection in Ivory Coast after an unnamed student came into the West African country from Beijing with flu-like symptoms.
  • Since then, there have been over 10 suspected cases in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.
  • Business Insider SSA takes a look at the measures African countries are using to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly since it showed up in Wuhan, the center of China's outbreak.

It has reached other parts of the world including Africa where over five more suspected cases have been reported in Ivory Coast, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Now, there are six new suspected cases in Sudan and Equatorial Guinea. Two Sudanese citizens and four travellers in Equatorial Guinea have been quarantined after displaying symptoms of the killer virus.

Dr Michael Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, has shared his thoughts on the suspected spread of the coronavirus in Africa.

"We are currently working on investigating suspected cases in Africa. We have been in touch with the regional director. We are concerned for countries in Africa. They [don’t] have the capacity to respond to cases," he said.

With all these new cases showing up across the continent, here is what African nations are doing to stop the spread of the deadly virus:

  • Nigeria

Africa's most populous country has issued a travel advisory advising "all Nigerians and persons intending to travel to China" to delay their plans unless the trip is "extremely essential".

The advisory issued by Health Minister Osagie Ehanire has also advised people arriving from China or any country with cases of the killer virus to stay at home for at least two weeks if they develop any symptoms.

According to Henrieta Yakuku, the general manager for corporate affairs at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the country is also focused on airports.

"At the moment we are carrying out a visual check to find passengers with symptoms of illness," he said.

“Nigerian ports, health services, and (the) Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are on alert at our airports and other ports of entry,” the advisory also stated.

  • Mauritania

The Chinese embassy here has asked its nationals who have recently arrived or returned to the country to remain confined for at least 14 days.

The government has also set up a crisis unit and placed thermal cameras at the airports of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

  • South Africa 

The authorities have increased surveillance of all travelers from Asia, especially China, especially at the country’s ports of entry.

“South Africans are assured that measures are in place to detect, manage and contain any cases of Novel Coronavirus should it come to our shores,” said Popo Maja, the spokesperson of the national Department of Health.

All international travellers now have to deal with routine temperature screening.

In addition to the beefed up surveillance, South African authorities are also educating public and private health workers on how to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak.

“Provinces have activated outbreak response teams and are on high alert to detect and manage inadvertent cases that may arrive in the country,” Maja said.

Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, the minister of health also said, “We wish to assure South Africans that the country is ready for active surveillance, detention, tracing of a threat.”

  • Angola

According to the Minister of Health, Sílvia Lutucuta, “The installation of thermometers at the airport will help promptly identify changes in body temperature and pay special attention to arriving passengers."

  • Malawi 

Screening procedures have been set up for incoming travelers arriving from overseas.

  • Mozambique

Rosa Marlene Cuco, the National Director of Public Health, said, “We have strengthened the screening services at the points of entry. People travelling overseas should take great care in contact with anyone showing possible symptoms of infection. Any traveller returning from countries at risk of coronavirus must carry out a self-diagnosis before entering Mozambique."

  • Tanzania

The government has increased its airport surveillance for passengers travelling from China and other affected countries. Authorities have also embarked on an awareness campaign and are reportedly considering creating quarantine facilities.

  • Zambia 

Despite being classified as a low risk country, the authorities have boosted surveillance at the airports and other entry points.

Thermal scanners are also being used for temperature monitoring on all arrival passengers.

The WHO will be holding an urgent meeting today, January 30, 2020 to decide if the coronavirus outbreak should be declared a global health emergency.

"The Committee will advise the Director-General on whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and what recommendations should be made to manage it," the WHO said in a statement.

The Emergency Committee is composed of 16 independent experts.

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