Several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa report COVID-19 cases in select areas since late February. Maintain basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • Togo

This alert began 12 Mar 2020 15:40 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
  • Location(s): Select locations in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, and Togo (map)
  • Period: February-March 2020

Summary
Several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa report imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Test results are pending in additional suspected cases, some of which will likely be confirmed. As of March 11, the following countries have identified COVID-19 cases:

  • South Africa: 13 cases, in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Western Cape provinces.

 

  • Senegal: 4 cases in Dakar
  • Burkina Faso: 2 cases in Ouagadougou
  • Cameroon: 2 cases in Yaounde
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: 1 case in Kinshasa
  • Nigeria: 1 case in Lagos State; 1 case in Ogun State
  • Togo: 1 case in Lome
  • Cote d'Ivoire: 1 case in Abidjan



Background and Analysis
Additional cases and locations may be added to this list at any time as disease surveillance and testing continues. Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission can occur, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people.

On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. This shift in posture from an earlier briefing indicating the WHO would no longer use the term "pandemic" to describe disease transmission is reflective of the current COVID-19 global impact. Per the March 11 statement, "Describing the situation as pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do."

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base

WHO: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

US CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

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