As coronavirus spreads across the globe, countries in Africa are taking preventative measures to keep the disease out. There are now more than 100 cases recorded in 11 countries in Africa.
Egypt remains the nation with the most reported cases with 59, more than half of all confirmed cases on the continent.
Most of the cases in Egypt are among passengers and crew members aboard a Nile cruise ship coming from southern city of Aswan to Luxor. Egypt’s health minister announced Sunday that a German citizen was the first death from the virus.
In South Africa with 13 cases of the virus so far additional testing with private laboratories and precautions of handwashing and social isolation are in place.
In Nigeria 2 cases of coronavirus have been identified. Routine coronavirus prevention measures are in place. Health officials are reporting that Nigeria’s experience with Ebola in 2014 has prepared the country for outbreaks such as coronavirus. Additionally, the nation is currently managing Lassa fever. Nigeria has set up a very active screening program and coronavirus prevention program which it is recommending to all of its citizens.
The outbreak has prompted air travel restrictions and cancellation of high-level conferences across the nation and across the continent.
The countries with reported cases according to the World Health Organization include the following:
Safety Measures all Africans Can Take
In summary coronavirus is a tiny particle of genetic information wrapped in a fat envelope. Th coronavirus can only make you sick by getting into your lungs and attaching to your lung cells where it reproduces hundreds and thousands of times causing pneumonia and other medical illnesses or is defeated by the bodies defense system. Our job as citizens of Africa and the world is to prevent the coronavirus from entering into our lungs and allowing infection to occur. Our job is to keep this tiny particle of genetic information which has the ability to bio-hack our lung cells and to turn them into coronavirus reproducing machines out of our lungs.
If you and I can stop the spread of this virus over the next 2-4 weeks this invasion, this pandemic of infection will stop. The assignment of everyone hearing this message is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading into the lungs of yourself, your family and those around you. If you will follow the measures as listed above, your chances of avoiding the coronavirus and/or limiting its spread is very high. The survival of humanity against this tiny viral invader can be successful if you and I participate in isolating the viral invader and allowing it to be either destroyed through our cleaning efforts and/or by its failure to find the necessary lung cells to reproduce.
Frequently Asked Questions
The symptoms of COVID-19 infections can range from very mild to severe respiratory illness and may include fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms can be very similar to those for influenza so it may be difficult to distinguish without clinical testing.
We are still learning about COVID-19 every day; however, it appears that 80-90% of COVID-19 infections are thought to be mild infections and only a small portion of people develop severe pneumonia.
According to the CDC if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing call your doctor’s office, urgent care clinic or emergency department for medical advice. This will help your healthcare provider to take steps to keep other people from getting infected if you need to come in.
In the meantime, if you feel sick it is a good idea to wear a face mask, avoid public places and stay away from others in your home. People who are sick with a respiratory illness should wear a face mask.
If you have a medical emergency call 911 and notify the dispatcher that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19.
The CDC and other public health experts do not recommend that people who are well wear face masks as a way to protect themselves from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.
As there is currently a limited global supply of masks, they should be reserved for care givers of patients with infections that require mask use or by patients with cough or other symptoms of respiratory illness. Doctors are asking patients who are sick with respiratory illness to wear a mask as a way to contain the respiratory droplets that are produced when they cough or sneeze in order to prevent spreading infections to others.
Masks are more effective when worn by someone who is sick to prevent respiratory droplets from escaping. So, if you are sick, it may be a public service to wear a mask if you need to be out and about like going to a doctor’s office or appointment at the hospital.
Yes, anyone who requires medical care can receive care regardless of insurance status. President Trump has recently proclaimed that all patients requiring medical assistance will receive that necessary medical assistance.
Decisions about testing are currently made on a case by case basis by healthcare providers and public health departments. The CDC testing criteria for COVID-19 were recently expanded to include a wider group of symptomatic patients after more cases of community transmission were confirmed in the United States.
Clinicians should make decisions on whether a patient should be tested based on the patient’s signs and symptoms as well as local occurrence of COVID-19.
The CDC notes that most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed a fever and/or symptom of acute respiratory illness such as cough or difficulty breathing.
Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness such as influenza.
In closing, most diagnostic testing which up until recently has been performed by local, state and health officials now is becoming more widely available and should within the week be available at pharmacies and other healthcare facilities near you.
Our knowledge of coronavirus is changing daily. Daily news conferences by the United States Coronavirus Task Force headed by Vice-President Pence are occurring and are broadcast on most news stations. I recommend that you follow the news. Stay up to date on breaking developments in this pandemic crisis that effects all of us. I also recommend that you follow all directions of State and Federal officials who are committed to your safety.
Terrance L. Baker, MD, MS, FAAEP, FAAFM