Coronavirus is at high speed of spreading all over the world. Though African hasn’t been hit yet the World Health Organization has listed 13 major African countries likely to be hit with the deadly disease.
In a publication on the official website of the World Health Organization, WHO says it is scaling up novel coronavirus preparedness efforts in the African region and supporting countries to implement recommendations outlined by the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, which met in Geneva, Switzerland on 30 January. On the advice of the Emergency Committee, the WHO Director-General, declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
While WHO is supporting countries to investigate a number of alerts, there continue to be no reported cases of the novel coronavirus in the African region. However, there are many links between China and the African continent.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has sent out a guidance note to all countries on how to prepare for a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” said Dr 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.”
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. 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 recommends that to protect against the novel virus, people should practice good hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices. These include washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing, avoiding close contact with anyone with flu-like symptoms, cooking food, especially meat, thoroughly and avoiding direct unprotected contact with live animals.
As of the 30 January 2020, there were 7818 confirmed cases globally, with the vast majority in China.