Ghana, Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia were identified by WHO as African nations with direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

The statement said: “WHO has identified 13 top priority countries (Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

“To ensure rapid detection of the novel coronavirus, it is important to have laboratories which can test samples and WHO is supporting countries to improve their testing capacity. Since this is a new virus, there are currently only two referral laboratories in the African region which have the reagents needed to conduct such tests.

“However, reagent kits are being shipped to more than 20 other countries in the region, so diagnostic capacity is expected to increase over the coming days. Active screening at airports has been established in a majority of these countries and while they will be WHO first areas of focus, the organization will support all countries in the region in their preparation efforts.

“It is critical that countries step up their readiness and in particular put in place effective screening mechanisms at airports and other major points of entry to ensure that the first cases are detected quickly”.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is warning Ghanaians to put on hold any non essential travel to China.

According to the statement issued by the health minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, “we are doing all things possible to ensure that we protect the nation against the coronavirus.”

“In light of these, there will be a National Technical Committee Coordination (NTCC) to review the resilience of our current arrangements to prevent an outbreak…,” the statement added.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has risen to nearly 12,000 — surpassing the 8,099 reported cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) during a 2003 outbreak, according to the npr.

China's National Health Commission says more than 102,000 people are under medical observation out of concern that they may be infected with the deadly respiratory virus.