Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Following fears of the spread of coronavirus to other parts of the world, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has stepped up surveillance measures at airports and other entry points into West Africa.
In addition to that, WAHO, which is the institution of ECOWAS for health, has established communication channels with member states to share real-time information on the outbreak, enhance communication between countries and strengthen countries’ surveillance capacity, including early detection of suspected cases through thermal camera surveillance at international borders.
WAHO Director-General, Prof Stanley Okoro, in a statement released in Abuja, on Monday, confirmed that one such suspected case of coronavirus arrived Abidjan Airport, Cote d’ Ivoire, some days ago.
“The case was immediately detected and isolated. A series of tests are now being performed to confirm whether it is a case of coronavirus or not. We have also implemented a regional laboratory network for access to rapid biological diagnostic facilities by member states.
“In addition to that, we have a standby Regional Rapid Response Team (RRRT) to support countries if required.”
He explained that Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The first case was reported in Wuhan Province of China in December 2019 and confirmed to be Coronavirus on 7 January 2020. As at Monday, 27 January 2020, about 3, 000 cases have been confirmed across the world, with 2, 744 cases and 80 deaths in China alone.
He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) assessment confirmed that the risk of an outbreak is still “very high” in China, and moderate globally including in West Africa.
“It’s therefore critical that countries collaborate with one another to take precautionary measures since cases may appear in any country due to international travel,” he suggested.