Besides Egypt, which already has a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), researchers and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have identified Algeria and South Africa as African countries most at risk while Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya as having moderate chance of importing the virus.
An epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, United States and a co-author of the Harvard team’s model, Marc Lipsitch, said though Africa was not as exposed to the ailment as those nations in South East Asia due to direct international flights from Wuhan.
But, he nonetheless feared that a large number of Chinese labourers on the continent and their travels between China and Africa were a possible route for transmission.
The analysis, posted on medRxiv, examined flights to Africa from Chinese cities that had reported infections, but it excluded towns in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, because of the lockdown that has restricted travels from many locations there since late January.
Colizza and her colleagues said Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya, except Sudan, are among 14 African nations that WHO had identified as being at high risk of importing the virus because they receive direct flights from China, or as a result of high volume of travellers.
A spokesperson for global agency in Geneva, Switzerland, Tarik Jašarevic, said the organisation was working with the affected countries to rapidly detect any potential cases, adding that the nations in question also needed to increase their preparedness