Covid-19: SA at ‘high risk’ of virus

21 February 2020 | Economics

South Africa, Egypt and Algeria are at high risk of suffering from the deadly coronavirus, a study released Wednesday suggested.

The Lancet medical journal reported that the three African countries were at particular risk because of higher levels of travel and trade with China, where the COVID-19 virus first arose.

Egypt's health ministry announced last week the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Africa - a foreigner whose nationality was not revealed.

"African countries have recently strengthened their preparedness to manage importations of COVID-19 cases," said study author Dr Vittoria Colizza, of France's Sorbonne university.

These include temperature screening at ports of entry, recommendations to avoid travel to China and improved health information provided to health professionals and the general public.

‘Ill-equipped’

However, she said "some countries remain ill-equipped" to deal with the threat and more needed to be done with surveillance and rapid identification of suspected cases, patient isolation and contact tracing.

While almost three-quarters of African countries have an influenza pandemic preparedness plan, most are outdated and considered inadequate.

Fortunately, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa have "the most prepared health systems in the continent", the report found.

The study suggested other countries - among them Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya - would all need support with detecting and handling imported cases of the coronavirus.

Namibia is not singled out in the report. – Own report and Nampa/Reuters

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