South Africa

African countries enhance testing capabilities for coronavirus

CAPE TOWN - The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said it would be conducting training in Nairobi, Kenya, for 40 participants from nine countries on enhancing detection and investigation of the coronavirus at points-of-entry. 

According to John Nkengasong, director at Africa CDC, the training is co-facilitated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO). 

On Friday, the minister of health and population for Egypt, Hala Zayed, confirmed the first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in that country.  

She said the patient was a 33-year-old man of foreign origin and was currently receiving treatment at an isolation centre in Egypt. 

The Africa CDC said the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon and Eswatini were testing suspected cases of coronavirus.

The CDC and WHO Africa region have in the past weeks boosted the testing capabilities of a number of countries. 

“In Dakar, Senegal, we conducted training and supplied test kits to 16 African laboratories, including from Egypt.  Egypt also received additional test kits from the WHO,” said Zayed.

In the next two weeks, Africa CDC said, further training and resources would be provided to Egypt and other at-risk countries for infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, medical management of COVID-19, and risk communication and community engagement. 

“We anticipated that the COVID-19 outbreak would inevitably impact Africa. That is why Africa CDC has been working actively with African Union Member States and partners in the past four weeks and investing in preparedness and response to the disease. This detection by Egyptian authorities is evidence of the strategy that Africa CDC and Member States have adopted in combating the disease,” Zayed said. 

The Egyptian case is thus far the first officially confirmed coronavirus infection in Africa. 

West African health ministers on Friday resolved to strengthen cooperation amongst their countries to deal with the virus. 

The ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in the Malian capital with the stated objective of “strengthening the capacities of national and regional entities in the region in the surveillance, prevention and early detection of epidemics” due to the virus. 

The novel coronavirus (a new strain) was confirmed in the Chinese city of Wuhan on January 7. Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

The WHO has since declared it a public health emergency of international dimensions. 

African News Agency