The World Health Organisation has identified 13 high- risk African countries for coronavirus.
They are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast , DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius , Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
A statement from WHO said the identified African nations have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.
“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.
“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.”
As yet, there are no confirmed cases of the potentially fatal virus on the African continent.
China’s latest update on the coronavirus epidemic, issued at midnight Thursday, listed 259 fatalities with a new total of 11,791 confirmed cases. There were 15,238 suspected cases along with 113,579 close contacts under health monitoring, according to the National Health Commission.
Although all 259 deaths from the disease have been limited to China, at least 118 people across 22 different countries have tested positive for the mysterious illness, prompting governments around the world to issue travel advisories and start evacuating their citizens from Wuhan. Chinese authorities have shut down travel in and out of Wuhan and enacted similar, strict transportation restrictions in a number of other cities.
WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Thursday (PHEIC).
The PHEIC is a designation for an “ extraordinary event” with the potential for international disease spread, one that requires immediate international action and coordinated response to reduce the global public health risk.
How African countries are responding to Coronavirus
As the death toll from the Coronavirus surpassed 200 in China, several African countries have implemented different measures including screening of travelers from China at airports, issuing travel advisories and reviewing visa issuance terms, in a bid to protect their populations.
Ethiopian Airlines, which is the continent’s largest operator on Thursday said it would still operate its regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong in China.
Botswana’s government has openly worried about its students’ supplies of water and food. It issued a statement on Sunday saying its embassy in China ‘is in constant contact with students in Wuhan City through an established Web Chat platform and emergency hotline number’.
Authorities in Kenya have opted not to evacuate their citizens from China, arguing that China is in a better position to contain the virus.
Africa’s most developed economy, South Africa, has signaled it will not evacuate citizens. On Sunday it told students in China to adhere to university instructions, warning that leaving without permission “can have far-reaching consequences.”
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, however, has ordered his government to repatriate 100 nationals of the north African nation from Wuhan.
Mozambique on Tuesday issued a directive temporarily suspending the issuance of visas on arrival for travelers from China, as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The president of another north African nation, Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune, ordered the “immediate” repatriation of 36 citizens in Wuhan, most of them students, the official APS news agency said.
In response to the announcement of coronavirus as a global health threat, the Nigerian government said it has started scaling up its preparedness and response to prevent the importation of the virus into the country.
Which airlines have cancelled flights?
Kenya Airways on Friday suspended all flights to and from China, as a precautionary measure.
RwandAir on Friday also suspended all flights to and from China until further notice.
Air Madagascar, Air Mauritus and Royal Air Maroc have also suspended flights to mainland China.