Ghana, Gabon confirm first cases of coronavirus

Elderly men wait for medicines at a pharmacy at Parirenyatwa hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on September 9, 2019. Zimbabwe has put 506 people under surveillance after they recently travelled to Chinese cities that are now hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO | AFP

LIBREVILLE/ACCRA (Reuters) – Gabon and Ghana confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the ninth and tenth countries in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases.

The region has so far been less badly hit by coronavirus than Europe or China. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of Congo have also registered cases.

In a statement, Gabon’s government said its case was a 27-year-old Gabonese man who had returned from France on March 8.

Ghana’s health ministry said its two cases were people who had returned recently from Norway and Turkey.

“These are imported cases of COVID-19. Both patients are currently being kept in isolation and are stable,” the ministry said in a statement.

More than 127,000 people have been infected globally and over 4,700 have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year, according to a Reuters tally.

Sub-Saharan Africa did not confirm its first coronavirus infection until Feb. 28 in Nigeria, but experts warn that rising cases could test already fragile health systems.