While a new study says the three nations are at high risk, researcher say other countries with less-prepared health systems may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Feb. 19 (UPI) — Egypt, Algeria and South Africa are among the highest-risk countries in Africa as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak threatens to expand to the continent, according to a modelling analysis published Wednesday in The lancet.
Egypt confirmed the first case of the disease in the region, in a foreign visitor, last Friday. China is Africa’s leading commercial partner and there is significant travel between the nation and the continent, the authors of the paper noted.
Overall, though, the risk of imported cases of COVID-19 coming to Africa is lower than that of Europe — 1 percent versus 11 percent — because of reduced travel to and from China.
“While almost three-quarters of all African countries have an influenza pandemic preparedness plan, most are outdated and considered inadequate to deal with a global pandemic,” co-author Vittoria Colizza, of Inserm at Sorbonne Université in Paris, said in a press release.
“African countries have recently strengthened their preparedness to manage importations of COVID-19 cases, including airport surveillance, temperature screening at ports of entry, recommendations to avoid travel to China, and improved health information provided to health professionals and the general public, some countries remain ill-equipped,” she added, however.
Indeed, countries determined to be at “moderate risk” in the COVID-19 outbreak — Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya — are among those that are less prepared and more vulnerable, the authors said. These countries require support to help them detect and handle imported cases of the virus, Colizza said.
Conversely, the three high-risk countries have the most prepared health systems in the continent and are least vulnerable, she added.