Coronavirus: Botswana gets 5 suspected cases, here are updates across Africa on the deadly outbreak

Researchers are racing to develop treatments for the coronavirus
  • The virus may have spread to Botswana after an unnamed traveller from China showed symptoms consistent with the outbreak.
  • Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, also dealt with an alleged case of the killer virus over the weekend.
  • Business Insider SSA has compiled all the updates across Africa on the deadly outbreak.

Since coronavirus showed up in Wuhan, China on January 7, 2020, it has been spreading to multiple countries across the globe.

The fast-spreading infection, which is now a global emergency, has claimed over 300 lives with over 14,628 confirmed cases in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

Here in Africa, there are no confirmed cases of the deadly outbreak. However, a growing number of countries have registered several suspected cases. So far, the latest reports are in Botswana and Lagos, Nigeria.

This Southern Africa country got its first suspected case of the deadly coronavirus after an unnamed traveller arriving from China started showing symptoms consistent with the outbreak aboard Ethiopian Airways.

According to the Ministry of Health, the man was detained at a local clinic after his flight landed at Gaborone's Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

Malaki Tshipayagae, Botswana's director of health services, latter announced that the patient has been isolated at a clinic for further observation. Now, there are a total of five suspected cases of the coronavirus in Botswana.

Confirming the reports, the Ministry of Health stated, "All the five suspected cases arrived at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SKIA). The five cases were picked at different times and are isolated at a designated health facility whilst waiting for laboratory results.

We wish to emphasise that these are suspected cases since they presented with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection such as fever, cough, fatigue and headache. The public is advised to continue exercising precautions towards the prevention of coronavirus such as personal hygiene."

Over the weekend, there were reports of a suspected case of the deadly coronavirus after a man returning from Shanghai went to a private hospital in Lekki for a check-up.

Despite being cleared, the man is now on a self-quarantine. According to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, he will be monitored until the end of his isolation period.

All travellers returning from China or anyone exposed to travellers from countries with cases of the virus has been advised to self-quarantine on arrival in Lagos.

Making the announcement, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said, “Novel coronavirus infection has an incubation period of 5 to 14 days. This means if you have been in China or any other country that is now experiencing coronavirus transmission from person to person, you may become unwell after a period of 5 to 14 days of your return.

“You must monitor yourself closely and diligently during the self-quarantine period to identify if you develop symptoms, including, but not limited to, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, chest pain, chills, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and pneumonia."

The minister also encouraged citizens to disregard any information about the virus that is not from his ministry, the Federal Ministry of Health or the National Centre for Disease Control.

“I would like to reassure Lagosians that our vigilance levels are very high and we are putting more measures in place to safeguard the state. Through our strategic initiatives with federal authorities, we are putting higher levels of surveillance into effect at all international airports in Nigeria, including Lagos to ensure that we minimize the threat of entry of any case of coronavirus,” Abayomi said.

Nigeria is one of the 13 priority African countries identified by the World Health Organization.

The remaining high-risk nations are: Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

African countries are responding to this deadly threat by cancelling trips to China.

Kenya Airways, RwandAir, Air Madagascar, Royal Air Maroc and Air Mauritius have all suspended flights to Beijing.

However, Ethiopian Airlines, the largest in Africa, has issued a statement announcing their plans to “continue to operate all its flights to China.”

Meanwhile, Africa's first case of the dangerous outbreak in Ivory Coast has tested negative. The four suspected cases in Ethiopia have also tested negative.

The coronavirus is from a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses like the common cold.

For now, preventive measures are simply to;

  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub,
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow,
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms,
  • Avoid unprotected contact with live animals, and 
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.


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