from ROSY SADOU in Douala, Cameroon & FATAO LOULOUM in Lome, Togo
West Africa Bureau
DOUALA – THE coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading like veld fire across Africa after continent initially appeared spared from the deadly disease.
Cameroon (two cases), in Central Africa, and Togo (1), in West Africa, confirmed the latest cases of the virus.
Nigeria (1) and Senegal (4), also in the West African region, had earlier detected COVID-19 in their respective countries.
In addition to South Africa (2), this brings to five the number of sub-Sahara African countries to have been affected by the epidemic that broke out in China at the end of 2019.
Cameroon minister of health, Dr Manaouda Malachie, said the government was making frantic efforts to track a 58-year-old French male citizen who arrived in the capital, Yaounde, on February 24 before spreading the virus to his local female partner.
The Cameroonian woman has since tested positive to the virus.
“We need to follow his contacts,” Malachie said of the French citizen.
“Our collaborators are on the ground, they are working,” the minister added.
In Togo, a 42-year-old woman based in the capital Lome, has tested positive after visiting France, Germany and Turkey sometime in February and early March.
The government however said the woman in question was in a stable condition.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country (200 million people) is tracking some citizens that were among 148 passengers on board the Turkish Airlines to Lagos on February 24. Fifty-five (55) have been followed up, health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said.
He advised the general public to desist from spreading rumours or misinforming citizens.
“This is leading to fear and panic,” Ehanire stated.
Overall, no deaths had been reported in Africa at the time of publication.
Comparative, Africa has suffered fewer cases of COVID-19 despite having some 60 000 students studying in China.
The COVID-19, which first broke-out in the city of Wuhan in December last year, has so far claimed over 3 500 lives while 104 000 people have been infected worldwide.
China has recorded 3 070 deaths from over 80 650 cases. Italy had 197 casualties and Iran 145 deaths as of the weekend. South Korea has the second-highest number of infections 7 041 cases outside China with 48 deaths.
The world’s biggest economy, United States of America (USA) documented 17 deaths from 355 cases.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, expressed concern at the misinformation around COVID-19.
She said misinformation during times of a health crisis could spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatisation.
“It (misinformation) can also result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus,” Gornitzka said.
– CAJ News