Nigeria: WHO Charges Nigeria, Others to Ramp Up Preparation for Coronavirus

27 February 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO), African region, has called on Nigeria and other African countries to ramp up their preparation activities for the deadly coronavirus, as the window of opportunity available to African countries for preparation was closing.

In a statement made available to THISDAY wednesday, the Regional Director of WHO Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said Algeria's Ministry of Health had alerted the global health body of a 61-year-old Italian who arrived in the country on February 17 from Italy tested positive to the virus.

Moeti said: "The window of opportunity the continent has to prepare for the coronavirus disease is closing. All countries must ramp up their preparedness.

"WHO is preparing to deploy a team of experts to Algeria to support its health authorities."

Algeria is one of 13 countries which WHO has identified as a top priority for preparedness measures due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China. Nigeria was named on the same list.

Countries so far affected are Bahrain, Israel, Italy, Egypt, Canada, United States, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, France, Afghanistan, Israel, Kuwait, UAE, Vietnam, United Kingdom, India, Russia, Nepal, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Croatia, Finland, Iraq, Nepal, Oman, Philippine, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Algeria, China among others.

Meanwhile, the WHO has said governments and pharmaceutical giants must urgently begin expensive and risky work to develop vaccines against COVID-19.

The Emergency Director of WHO, Michael Ryan, said: "Big decisions need to be taken as vaccines will require huge investment, and the state sector will have to take some of the risk with the private sector.

"It requires hundreds of millions of dollars, and it may be necessary to develop several potential vaccines "without any certainty that one of them will work," he said.

Ryan also said it had "become very important to conclusively identify the source of the outbreak in order to prevent another. A single transmission chain has been identified but there could be others."

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