• Over the weekend, Africa reported its first confirmed case of the deadly novel coronavirus.
  • The infection, officially known as COVID-19, may have also spread to The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). 
  • With the virus entering the continent, we have compiled the best tips to keep you safe.

As of today, February 17,2020, there are over 71,000 cases of the novel coronavirus including Africa's first confirmed case in Egypt.

There are also more than 1,700 deaths, most of them occurring in Hubei, China where the virus was first detected.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does not look like the virus will stop spreading anytime soon.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission."

The Coronavirus is fast spreading as doctors in China try to contain it
The Coronavirus is fast spreading as doctors in China try to contain it
P. Ravikumar/Reuters

ALSO READ: Nigeria sets up 3 testing centres after latest scare

Protective measures

Here is how you can protect yourself from the rapidly spreading virus:

  • Wash your hands often

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub for at least 20 seconds. You should only use the hand rub or sanitister if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Wash. Your. Hands.
Wash. Your. Hands.
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  • Stay at least 3 feet or 1 meter away from anyone who may be infected. 

Explaining why this is necessary, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, "When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus."

  • Get medical help once you notice common symptoms

Seek medical attention as soon as you notice fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or have trouble breathing, which are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

You should also practice respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.