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Egypt reports Africa’s first coronavirus case

Friday February 14 2020


People wearing facemasks as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. PHOTO | ANTHONY WALLACE | AFP 

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Egypt Friday confirmed its first coronavirus case, saying that the affected person is a foreigner. The male patient, whose nationality and other personal details were not divulged, has been put in isolation at a hospital.

A statement from the Egyptian health ministry said that the country had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and had taken all necessary preventive measures, according to news agency Reuters.

“The case was transferred as a foreign person to the hospital for isolation, follow-up and health check, as the case carries the virus and does not show any symptoms, and his condition is completely stable,” WHO Egypt tweeted last evening.


The country’s national carrier, EgyptAir, announced on January 30 that it would suspend its flights from and to mainland China until February 29. The suspension began on February 1.

China Friday reported 121 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, 116 of which were in the epicentre of the infection in Hubei province, bringing to at least 1,380 the number of deaths across the country.


At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei.

Three deaths have been recorded outside mainland China — one in Hong Kong, another in the Philippines and the most recent in Japan.

As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, continues to sweep through Hubei, countries across the world are preparing for worst-case scenarios.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been preparing for a widespread outbreak of illnesses.

WHO has warned that the virus poses a “grave threat” to the world, with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying the illness could have “more powerful consequences than any terrorist action”.

Until Friday, the WHO Africa region had maintained that there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the continent.

Many countries are still in the process of building on the expertise gained in preparing for an influenza pandemic as coronaviruses cause illnesses similar to influenza, the regional UN office said in a statement.

“We recognise that our countries have invested quite a bit in preparing for a potential Ebola outbreak and these efforts are paying off,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

“We are seeing that in some of the key areas such as surveillance and infection control, that readiness capacities are now being deployed in relation to a possible coronavirus disease outbreak.”

In addition, it said, since the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018, WHO and partners have helped countries at high risk to prepare for possible Ebola cases.

“These efforts which have led to increased capacity in surveillance and the handling of infectious cases can also support the response to the novel coronavirus.”