Health

Coronavirus spreads to Africa as China confirms 46,550 cases

Africa recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Friday as a foreigner who had been put in isolation at a hospital in Egypt tested positive for the disease.

In a statement, Egyptian Health Ministry said it had informed the WHO and had taken all necessary preventative measures.

It did not give the nationality of the affected person or any other details.

A total of 17 African countries, including Nigeria, have confirmed having facilities where the disease can be detected.

Apart from Egypt, other countries where the virus has been confirmed are Singapore, UK, Malaysia, Taiwan, Spain, Vietnam, Germany, UAE, France and Japan.

Other countries where cases of the disease have been reported are Thailand, Canada, Australia, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Cambodia, and the United States.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says in the last 24 hours China has reported 1,820 laboratory-confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to 46,550.

Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said this in a statement posted on the agency’s website on Friday.

Ryan gave the figures while briefing newsmen on COVID-19 at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“China reported 13,332 clinically confirmed cases in Hubei province.

“ We understand that most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself.

“So this increase that you have all seen in the last 24 hours is largely down to a change in how cases are being diagnosed and reported.

“So, in other words, in Hubei province only a trained medical professional can now classify a suspected case of COVID-19 as a clinically-confirmed case on the basis of chest imaging, rather than having to have a laboratory confirmation,” he said

According to him, this allows clinicians to move and report cases more quickly, not having to wait for lab confirmation, ensuring that people get to clinical care more quickly.

“It also allows public health responses in terms of contact tracing and other important public health measures to be initiated.

”You have noticed with suspect cases, there have been some backlogs in testing and this is also going to help ensure that people get adequate care and adequate public health measures can be taken.

“So we are not dealing, from what we understand, with a spike in cases of 14,000 on one day,” he said.

According to him, to an extent this is an artefact of the reporting and we are working with our colleagues in China, and our team there are working very hard.

“They are working hard to see exactly how many days and weeks and how those numbers are spread across those days and weeks.

“In the rest of China and the rest of the world, laboratory confirmation for reporting is still required,’’ he said.

According to him, WHO will continue to track both laboratory and clinically-confirmed cases in Hubei province.

“We have seen this spike in the number of cases reported in China, but this does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak.

“Outside China, there are 447 cases from 24 other countries, and now two deaths. In addition to the death in the Philippines, there is now one more death in Japan ,’’ he said

WHO said it could take 18 months for the first vaccine for coronavirus to be ready.

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