Africa

Nigeria confirms first coronavirus case

The first case of the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa has been confirmed in Nigeria.

The patient is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and flew into the commercial city of Lagos from Milan on February 25.

Authorities say he is stable with no serious symptoms and is being treated at a hospital in the city.

Elsewhere on the continent, Algeria and Egypt have also confirmed cases of the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that Africa’s “fragile health systems” meant the threat posed by the virus was “considerable”.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s health ministry has announced that two nationals aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan have tested positive for the virus.

In Kenya, the High Court has ordered the temporary suspension of flights from China following a petition by the Law Society of Kenya.

It comes amidst public outrage after China’s Southern Airlines resumed flights to Nairobi amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Globally, more than 80,000 people in nearly 50 countries have been infected. Nearly 2,800 have died, the vast majority in China’s Hubei province.

Nigerian authorities say the Italian patient – who had flown in from Milan, a city badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak – is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

“We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria,” the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said in a statement.

Nigeria has been preparing to deal with the outbreak since it was first reported in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province in January, it added.

Health authorities in Nigeria advise people to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, to avoid contracting the virus.

People have also been told to stay home if they have persistent coughs and sneezes, and contact authorities if they have any concerns.

Nigeria was widely praised for its efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

The coronavirus outbreak has reached a “decisive point” and has “pandemic potential”, WHO head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.

He urged governments to act swiftly and aggressively to contain the virus. -BBC

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