Nigeria has been identified as one of the top priority countries which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
This was made known in a statement by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who listed 12 other top priority countries like Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Moeti said: “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.
“The quicker countries can detect cases, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.
“A new and unknown virus is often scary and many people are worried. This is understandable. But all efforts to combat the novel coronavirus must be based on sound science.
She said to ensure rapid detection of the novel coronavirus, it is important to have laboratories that 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.”
WHO recommends that to protect against the novel virus, people should practice good hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices.
These include washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing, avoiding close contact with anyone with flu-like symptoms, cooking food, especially meat, thoroughly and avoiding direct unprotected contact with live animals