As scientists race against time to find a vaccine for the coronavirus, a technical consultant with the World Health Organisation for Geneva and Eastern Mediterranean regional office, Dr Ngozi Erondu, has said the Wuhan Coronavirus will certainly reach Africa.
Erondu, an Associate Fellow of the Global Health Programme at Chatham House, warned that the virus would also infect people on the black continent, citing as the reason the deepening trade and travel ties between China and Africa.
She said, “We can be very certain that coronavirus will be exported to Africa.
“There is a large amount of travel between China and Africa; hubs such as Addis Ababa, Cairo and Nairobi are at particular risks due to a large amount of Chinese travellers that pass through these airports.”
In a related development, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has said the institution was working closely with its Chinese counterparts, adding that they are in Africa to monitor the situation and also prepare themselves to deal with any outbreak or cases.
His view was reaffirmed by the WHO’s pronouncement that it would be scaling up preparedness in Africa, particularly in 13 top priority countries.
Those 13 top priority countries are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
According to reports, authorities in these African countries have also set up an active screening apparatus at various airports to indicate their level of preparedness.
“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,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said, “Over the last three years, we have invested resources in improving infectious disease surveillance and response capacity.
“Our National Reference Laboratory has the capacity for molecular diagnosis of pathogens and we are receiving guidance from WHO on the primers and reagents that will be used to test suspected coronavirus cases.”
There is, so far, no confirmed case of the virus on the continent as of Monday.