(Updates with information from Ethiopia)
Nairobi/Accra/Addis Ababa, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- Kenya and Ethiopia on Friday confirmed their first cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in China late last year.
Health authorities in the East African nations had warned it was only a matter of time until Covid-19 was detected.
Ethiopia became the 13th African country to be affected by the pandemic when the government announced its first case, a 38-year-old Japanese citizen who arrived in Addis Ababa from Burkina Faso.
The country’s health minister Liya Tadesse said in a press conference that the patient arrived in the country on 4 March and had been put in isolation.
She added that other people who had contact with the individual had been identified and quarantined.
Tadesse urged the population to take precautionary measures and tweeted: “Now is the time. Frequent hand washing is key.”
She urged Ethiopians “not to panic, but to remain calm and do everything possible to stop the spread of the disease”.
Ethiopia reported the situation a few hours after neighbouring Kenya confirmed its first case.
“Members of the press and fellow Kenyans, I want to inform you that the Ministry of Health has confirmed the first coronavirus case in Kenya,” Kenyan health minister Mutahi Kagwe told a press conference.
He said the case, which was confirmed late Thursday, related to a Kenyan woman who had travelled back to Nairobi from the United States via London on 5 March.
The woman was stable and had recovered from a fever but will be kept under observation until her test results show she is no longer infected with the virus, he said.
“There is really no need for alarm in our nation,” the health minister added.
He referred back to a recent address in the Senate in which he said detecting Covid-19 in Kenya “was not a question of if we are going to get a case in due course, it was a question of when”.
Guinea-Conakri also reported a confirmed infection on Friday, a Belgian citizen who works for the European Union delegation in the West African country.
Late Thursday, Ghana confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19, two patients from Turkey and Norway who have tested positive.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has earmarked a $100 million fund for preventive measures against the infectious virus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year and has since become a global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.
Gabon also reported its first case on Thursday night, with a positive test result for a Gabonese national who had returned to the small West African country from France.
The newly affected countries joined a growing list of sub-Saharan nations with confirmed cases of Covid-19, including Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The North African countries of Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia also have Covid-19 cases. EFE-EPA