The West African Health Organization (WAHO), says the first suspected case of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Africa has been detected in Abidjan, the largest city and chief port of Côte d’Ivoire.
A statement signed by the Director General, West African Health Organization (WAHO) Prof. Stanley Okolo on Monday, noted that the case which was detected at the Abidjan airport recently, has been isolated and undergoing relevant tests to ascertain whether or not infected with the virus.
He advised that even though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has placed the risk assessment of China to be very high and moderate globally, it was very critical for all countries to take collaborative precautionary measures to prevent further spread of the virus.
WAHO has further advised all individuals to frequently wash hands with soap and water, cover their mouths while sneezing or coughing, avoid close contact with any one with fever or cold, avoid raw or undercooked meat or milk and to seek medical care if down with fever, cough or experience difficulty in breathing.
The statement reads in part: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
“It is therefore critical that all countries collaborate with each other to take precautionary measures since cases may appear in any country due to international travel. WAHO fully supports WHO’s recommendations to countries regarding active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, and contact tracing to prevent further spread of this outbreak.“
Coordination with ECOWAS Member States
WAHO is coordinating with Member States to share real-time information on the outbreak, enhance communication between countries and strengthen countries’ surveillance capacity, including early detection of suspected cases through thermal camera surveillance at international borders.
“One such suspected case arriving Abidjan airport recently was immediately detected and isolated and tests are now being performed to confirm whether this is a case of coronavirus or not. WAHO has also implemented a regional laboratory network for access to rapid biological diagnostic facilities by Member States, and has a standby Regional Rapid Response Team to support countries if required.”
WAHO advised against direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting markets. At all times, avoid eating raw or undercooked meat. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.
No fewer than 81 persons have died from the Novel Coronavirus in China, and 3,000 persons have been confirmed to be infected globally with the virus out of which 2744 cases are in China alone.