March 15, 2020 / 3:09 PM / 18 days ago

Equatorial Guinea reports first coronavirus case, health ministry says

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea has reported its first case of COVID-19, the health ministry said in a statement, bringing the number of African countries directly affected by coronavirus to 26.

The 42-year-old woman flew back to the capital Malabo from Spain on March 13, the ministry said in a statement that the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared with Reuters on Sunday.

News of the virus’ spread in Africa in recent weeks has raised concerns among health specialists over whether the continent’s often dilapidated health infrastructure will be able to cope. Congo Republic also announced its first case on Saturday.

Africa’s porous borders will make some countries susceptible despite efforts by many to suspend flights, ban public gatherings and increase sanitation measures.

Some, like Somalia, are fighting insurgencies while others, such as South Sudan, have high levels of malnutrition, malaria and other diseases that make populations vulnerable to infection.

Reporting by Giulia Paravicini; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexander Smith and Jan Harvey

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