Africa

"Nigeria is ready," Chikwe Ihekweazu said. "We successfully managed Ebola and we manage outbreaks all the time and are currently managing Lassa fever. We have a strong team that is used to doing this." An Italian citizen who traveled to Lagos, Nigeria's economic nerve center, became the first confirmed case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa, the country's Health Ministry reported earlier. Ihekweazu told CNN the Italian patient who arrived in the country with the virus is currently stable and "has mild to moderate symptoms." "We are very hopeful for his full recovery," said Ihekweazu, an epidemiologist who was appointed CEO of the NCDC in 2016 and has been credited with transforming the organization. According to Ihekweazu, the man was screened on arrival at the airport, however, he presented no symptoms at the time, which is why the temperature scanners at the airport did not detect he was ill. "Screening is not a fool proof method as the virus has an incubation period of four to five days," he added. Earlier this week, Algeria confirmed the first case on the continent, another Italian passenger who entered the country on February 17. The patient was placed in quarantine, and under close supervision, according to health authorities in Algeria.

'Astute physicians'

Nigerian officials say the patient who works in Nigeria arrived in Lagos on February 25 and became ill the next day but quick thinking physicians who examined him contacted the NCDC after asking him about his travel history. "He had astute physicians," Ihekweazu said. "The doctor got in touch with us when he found out he had just come from Milan, we collected a sample, tested it and isolated him in a facility in Lagos that manages infectious diseases." Ihekweazu points to the speed with which Nigeria identified and confined the patient as a sign the country is prepared to deal with the outbreak. "The system worked. We identified this case, diagnosed and isolated within 48 hours of it entering the country. In other countries like Iran and Italy for instance, by the time the first case had been confined, there was widespread contact."

No water access

Frequent handwashing with soap and water is one of the key ways of ensuring infectious diseases such as coronavirus do not spread. However, one in six healthcare facilities globally do not have both soap and water available for doctors, nurses and patients to wash their hands, says Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive, WaterAid UK. 'As each day passes, the chances of evacuation slip by.' The Nigerian students 'abandoned' in Wuhan Figures from WHO shows that only 42 percent of Nigerians have access to water, soap and washing facilities on their premises, while 25 percent have no access to water at all. Nigeria has around 200 million citizens so there are significant concerns about the impact of coronavirus spreading widely. The World Health Organization recently said that an outbreak of coronavirus in Africa would hit the continent harder than China. The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,800 people worldwide, the vast majority in mainland China. There have been more than 83,000 global cases, with infections in every continent except Antarctica.Many of the countries in Africa are already dealing with severe health crises with limited resources, such as Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A race against time

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FOCUS GUINEA ELECTIONS © FRANCE 24

On Sunday March 1st, some 8 million people will vote, not only for MPs, but also in a referendum on a series of constitutional reforms proposed by President Alpha Conde. Critics fear those reforms would pave the way for Condé to stay in power for a third term. In an interview he granted France 24 on February, Alpha Condé said he wants to let his party decide whether he should run again. Undeterred by the protests led by the NFDC, the ruling party has been out campaigning, leaving observers wondering if a democratic change of power is possible.

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President Paul Biyas party has retained an absolute majority in Cameroons parliament, the constitutional council announced Friday after the controversial February 9 vote.

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His Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (RDPC) won 139 out of 167 declared seats on “moderate” turnout of almost 46 percent, said the councils president, Clement Atangana.

Elections were cancelled in 13 other seats, in Cameroons troubled anglophone regions, and are to be held at a later date.

In the outgoing parliament, elected in 2013, the RDPC had 148 seats.

Atangana said an RDPC ally, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP), won seven seats.

The biggest opposition party in the outgoing assembly, the Social Democratic Front, which had 18 seats in the outgoing assembly, has seen its share fall to just five.

Voting day in the Central African Republic was overshadowed by the crisis in two regions where anglophone separatists have declared independence from the majority French-speaking country.

Separatist fighters had called on people there to boycott the poll and issued threats to anyone who planned to vote.

More than 3,000 people have died and at least 700,000 have fled their homRead More – Source