DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal’s health ministry said a second person who flew to the West African country from France last week tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases in sub-Saharan Africa to three.
The latest patient, an 80-year-old man from the Sarcelles suburb of Paris, arrived in Senegal on Feb. 29 and presented himself at a hospital in the capital Dakar on March 2.
“His clinical status is stable and all efforts have been taken to identify those he was in contact with,” the ministry said in statement, without giving further details.
Senegal confirmed its first case on Monday and another case of coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria last week.
The Senegalese health ministry has said it is tracking down the first patient’s fellow passengers on the Air Senegal flight from Marseilles to Dakar that landed on Feb. 26 and is monitoring his wife and two children.
Ousmane Faye, the head virologist at Dakar’s Pasteur Institute, said 10 to 15 other cases tested yesterday had all come back negative.
Faye said the first patient, quarantined in the capital’s Fann Hospital, had a benign form of the virus and he was confident he would survive.
The rapid spread of the new coronavirus worldwide has increased fears of a pandemic, prompting governments to step up control measures.
As of Tuesday, there were more than 90,000 cases globally, with more than 80,000 in China, and infections in 77 other countries and territories, according to a Reuters tally.
Senegalese President Macky Sall announced a $2 million emergency response plan late on Monday, according to local media. The health ministry said it was working with religious leaders to promote hygiene measures ahead of a series of domestic pilgrimages scheduled in March.
On Tuesday morning, people went about their usual business in the oceanside capital of over 2 million, though stocks of hand sanitizer and masks were running low in some pharmacies. One was rationing face masks to five per customer.
Many people had purchased masks a week earlier when strong northerly winds from the Sahara Desert created a dust cloud over the city.
Ibrahima Tobe, an IT manager, said he noticed some subtle changes.
“Everybody is talking about it and the basic preventative measures are being put in place,” Tobe said. “I came to my office this morning, no one wanted to shake hands with me.”
Additional reporting by Christophe Van Der Perre; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by David Clarke