Harare, January 29, 2020 (New Ziana) – There are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Africa yet, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
At least 132 people have died from coronavirus in China with confirmed infections surging to more than 6 000.
Addressing the media at the African Union headquarters on Tuesday, Africa Centre for Disease Control director Dr John Nkengasong said the continental grouping was on high alert to deal with the virus that has since spread from China to other countries.
“So far we have no confirmed cases even though there are rumours and unconfirmed cases in several countries,” he said.
“We are preparing as quickly as possible in a coordinated fashion with the World Health Organisation. We just conducted a meeting with all member states from the AU to check with them how prepared they are. We continue to provide them support in areas of laboratory testing, in the areas of enhanced airport screening and monitoring and also in the areas of infection, prevention and infection control especially the hospitals,” he said.
Dr Nkengasong said the Africa CDC was urging countries on the continent to start applying preventive measures.
“All member states should enhance their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual pattern. Member states that receive direct or connecting flights from China should screen incoming passengers,” he said.
The Africa CDC also urged AU member states to notify the World Health Organisation immediately if suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus infections were identified.
Zimbabwean Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said while no cases of coronavirus had been reported, the country had responded by training key personnel at its two infectious disease hospitals ways to manage the deadly virus.
According to the World Health Organisation, in confirmed cases of illness in humans, common symptoms of coronavirus have been acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
Based on current clinical experience, the infection generally presents as pneumonia.