WHO experts fear that the virus is spreading in some African countries, where health systems are ill-prepared for this kind of epidemic.
As of February 6, 2020, the Coronavirus epidemic 2019-Ncov rose to more than 28,000 cases of contamination, causing 560 deaths, 98.6% of which in China. 200 cases of contamination have been identified outside of China in twenty countries. “This does not mean that the situation is not going to get worse”, warned WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, but “there is a window of fire thanks to the strong measures taken by China (…). Let us not pass this window”, he insisted. However, “if cases were exported to certain African countries or other continents where the means of health security are limited, large epidemic foci could then break out outside of China “, dread J. Stephen Morrison, in charge of the global health policy department at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CSIS) in Washington. In this context, Africa must do everything to prevent the entry of the virus on its soil, at the risk of becoming the next major focus of the epidemic.
The continent is (officially) spared by the new coronavirus from China to date, but its arrival is likely, experts say.World Health Organization. Its presence could initially go unnoticed, given the lack of means to detect and analyze it.
Knowing the large flows of students and businessman traveling between China and Africa, it is unlikely that the continent will remain unscathed for a long time, even if in theory this type of virus tends to perish under the effect of heat.
The Institut Pasteur de Dakar, designated by the African Union as one of the two reference centers in Africa (with Libreville, in Gabon) for the detection of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV Appeared in China, receives experts from 15 countries on the continent this weekend to prepare them for coping with the disease. Being able to count on rapid and reliable diagnoses will be essential in case of suspicion, but not all African countries have adequate capacities. WHO has started shipping screening kits to around 20 countries for better diagnosis.
Across the continent, states are strengthening their controls. The ports and airports being on the front line. Medical teams check the temperature of travelers there, as in Dakar, where small thermal cameras appeared before passport control last week. In case of fever, the procedure provided by WHO is to put travelers in solitary confinement, the time to carry out tests. But many African countries are at risk of shortage of personnel and equipment to cope with an epidemic.
African states are aware of the danger, but have been dealing with much more virulent viruses for years. West Africa was affected in 2014-2016 by the worst known Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and reached ten countries, including Spain and the States -United. This hemorrhagic fever has also claimed more than 2,200 lives since its re-emergence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 2018.
But Ebola outbreaks, even if the virus is highly lethal (one in four people dies of it), remains essentially isolated and confined far from urban centers. Which would not be the case with 2019-nCoV. Especially since the symptoms of coranavirus can remain hidden during the first 14 days. The arrival of the coronavirus in a city like Lagos and its 20 million inhabitants would be quickly unmanageable.
Most countries have called on their nationals not to travel to China until further notice. They also suspended the issuance of visas for Chinese citizens.
In Liberia, the head of the Institute of Public Health, Mosoka Fallah, estimated the cost of immediate action at $ 3 million. “We must take measures as soon as possible to prevent him from coming here”he said in front of the parliament, describing as “catastrophic” the rate of spread of the coronavirus.
“It's messed up” if the 2019-Ncov returns to the country, estimates in Luanda the Angolan, Anciao Fabiao Paulo in a statement collected by AFP. “Our health system is vulnerable and we do not have good specialists. People are already falling like flies because of malaria “he said.
In Mauritania, the Chinese embassy asked its nationals who recently returned to Nouakchott to stay home for two weeks. A similar measure has been requested from anyone returning from China by the Nigerian Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.
A “special effort” surveillance is expected from countries with strong ties to China, including Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Mauritius, the director of the Africa Center said in Addis Ababa. disease control and prevention (CDC), John Nkengasong.
The coronavirus will be on the menu of the African Union summit, which begins on February 9, 2020 in Addis Ababa. A summit where a large Chinese diplomatic delegation is generally present.