‘The 34-year-old student traveled from Beijing to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on Saturday and was coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing,’‘ Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in statement.
This effectively becomes the first case of testing for the virus on the African continent, even as Chinese authorities announced on Tuesday that its death toll had surpassed 100 from over 4,000 cases reported.
Authorities in Ivory Coast moved the student to a safe location where she is currently being monitored. The health says it is highly likely a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the results of the test.
The coronavirus was confirmed in the Chinese city on January 7, 2020. Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States.
The World Health Organisation’s Africa emergency response program manager Michel Yao advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.
There is a considerable community of students in China from African countries, and a number of them have expressed their desire to return home as authorities struggle to contain the virus. Other countries across the world are considering the option of evacuating their citizens.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travelers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS coronavirus, which is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.