Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

DR Congo confirms first coronavirus case

Belgian citizen who has been in country several days has tested positive, says health minister

Godfrey Olukya and Alaattin Dogru   | 11.03.2020
DR Congo confirms first coronavirus case

KAMPALA, Uganda/DAKAR, Senegal 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced the country's first case of the novel coronavirus Tuesday.

A Belgian citizen who has been in the country for several days tested positive for the coronavirus, said Health Minister Eteni Longondo.

The person was put in quarantine in a hospital in the capital city Kinshasa, he added.

''I would like to announce to the Congolese population that we diagnosed this morning the first case of coronavirus. It has been discovered in a Belgian national who has come to stay here for a few days,'' Longondo said.

But he said there is no need to panic because the situation is under control and urged the public to calm down but put in practice preventive measures, especially those involving cleanliness.

The virus originated in China but has reached over 100 countries, with the the World Health Organization (WHO) saying Monday that the “threat of a pandemic has become very real."

The global death toll from the coronavirus is now over 4,000, with nearly 114,000 confirmed cases.

As part of efforts to contain the outbreak, some governments closed borders and suspended land and air travel with the worst-hit countries.

No new Ebola cases in three weeks

Also, no new Ebola cases have been confirmed for the last three weeks in the DRC.

The WHO recommends waiting two full incubation periods, or 42 days, after the last person tests negative a second time before declaring the end of the outbreak.

Ebola, a tropical fever which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the DRC, can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.

At the peak of the Ebola outbreak, more than 120 cases were being reported each week, with cases appearing 1,200 kilometers apart.

Ebola caused global alarm in 2014 when the world's worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing more than 11,300 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

*Contribution by Havva Kara Aydin in Ankara.

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