The first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported in Algeria, after an Italian adult who arrived in the country on February 17 tested positive for the disease, authorities said.
“This is the first case in the WHO [World Health Organisation] African region,” the United Nations health agency’s regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.
“The window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing. All countries must ramp up their preparedness activities.”
Algeria is one of 13 countries WHO has identified as a top priority for preparedness measures due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China, the others being Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
WHO said it was preparing to deploy a team of experts to Algeria to support health authorities.
Its latest situation report on COVID-19 said Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and Oman had reported cases of COVID-19 as of February 25.
Globally 80,239 cases have been confirmed, 908 of them new. In China, where the disease was first reported in December, 77,780 cases have been confirmed, 518 of them new, with 2,666 deaths.
Outside of China there have been 2,459 confirmed cases, 390 of them new, in 33 countries, with 34 deaths.