Public health experts have consistently warned that the novel coronavirus outbreak presents a unique public health threat to the African continent. The World Health Organization says that only eight countries are ready to deal with the outbreak.
Up until recently, most have lacked any diagnostic capability and few countries on the continent have sufficient health systems to deal with severe cases on a large scale. Despite operating multiple direct flights to coronavirus-hit China, there were no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Sub-Saharan Africa until last week.
That is when Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), received a phone call in the early hours of the morning from Nigeria, where an Italian traveling on business was rapidly diagnosed and isolated.
Nkengasong, a former senior official of the US CDC, and his colleagues have been working on a diagnostics and containment strategy to combat the disease. Nkengasong spoke to CNN about the risk posed by coronavirus to African countries.