A medical staffer works with test systems for the diagnosis of coronavirus. Picture: AP Photo
A medical staffer works with test systems for the diagnosis of coronavirus. Picture: AP Photo

SA among 13 African countries on high alert for coronavirus - WHO

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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Rustenburg - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified 13 top priority countries in Africa, which due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China, need to be particularly vigilant for the novel coronavirus. 

The countries are Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The WHO said while there were no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus reported in the African region, it was strengthening its support to countries in the detection and management of suspected cases and in ensuring a robust response, should a first case be detected.

"A new virus is always a challenge and most laboratories in Africa lack the key material they need to perform tests on a novel pathogen,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

"WHO is working with countries to rapidly scale-up diagnostic capacity for 2019-nCoV. It is crucial that countries in the region can detect and treat severe cases early, preventing a widespread outbreak, which could overwhelm fragile health systems."

On Tuesday, the WHO named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus: COVID-19.

"Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.

"Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He was speaking at the two-day global research and innovation forum in Geneva, Switzerland to mobilise international action in response to the new coronavirus.

To date, 42 708 confirmed cases have been reported in China, and 1,017 people in China have lost their lives to this virus. Most of the cases and most of the deaths were in Hubei province, Wuhan.

Outside China, there were 393 cases in 24 countries, and one death.

African News Agency (ANA)

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