The World Health Organisation has listed Nigeria among 13 high-risk African countries for coronavirus.
The other 12 are Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
A statement from WHO on Friday said the identified African nations have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.
“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.
“To ensure rapid detection of the novel coronavirus, it is important to have laboratories which can test samples and WHO is supporting countries to improve their testing capacity. Since this is a new virus, there are currently only two referral laboratories in the African region which have the reagents needed to conduct such tests.
“However, 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.
“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,” the statement said.
The statement noted that the quicker countries can detect cases of the disease, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.
Recall that WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Thursday declared the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
On the advice of the Emergency Committee, the WHO Director-General, declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
Coronavirus was first detected in the Wahun region of China on December 31, 2019.
The latest statistics on the disease as at Friday night stood at 213 fatalities with a total of 9,692 confirmed cases.