Fears that Africa is not prepared for the spread of COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak outside China is developing, with more than 93,000 cases confirmed around the world and approximately 3000 deaths.

While the virus has been established as a global threat, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the world's understanding of the virus is growing but that they must remain prepared.

While the overwhelming majority is in China, deaths have been reported in Italy, Iran and the United States, among others and governments around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, with authorities considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Senegal has confirmed two cases of coronavirus after two French nationals in the West African country tested positive. It became the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to confirm a coronavirus case.

Health Minister Diouf Sarr said a French man who lives in Senegal visited France in mid-February, contracting the virus before returning.

The patient, according to the minister, was quarantined in the capital, Dakar.

Nigeria confirmed its first case of the virus on 28 February - an Italian citizen working in Lagos who had travelled to Milan earlier in the month. Health officials said the man had been in Nigeria for two days before being isolated, and authorities put in place measures to identify anyone he had been in contact with.

One person in Egypt also tested positive for the virus last week. But global public health experts have been concerned about the potential for a wider spread.

A handful of countries in Africa are at a high risk of the spread of virus because of the volume of air traffic between those countries and China, a new model shows. However, some aren’t well-prepared to deal with infections if they arrive and WHO has said that the window of opportunity that Africa has had to prepare for it is closing.

Algeria’s government has also confirmed two cases of the virus in the country.The suspected cases were two Italian nationals aged 55 and 61 years old.

WHO identified Algeria as a top priority for coronavirus preparedness measures due to the country's direct links and high volume of travel to China.

Early in the month, only two African countries — Senegal and South Africa — had the laboratory capability to test people for COVID-19.

WHO has distributed testing kits, and 40 countries are expected to be able to run tests on suspected cases.

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