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First Case Of Coronavirus Confirmed In Sub-Saharan Africa

ABDULGANI BASHEER/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Contributor
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Nigerian authorities confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

The health commissioner for Lagos, Africa’s largest city with more than 20 million people, said an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria from Milan on Tuesday on a business trip became ill the next day, the Associated Press reported. The Commissioner said officials were working to identify all of the man’s contacts in Nigeria because he was infected with the contagious coronavirus, and a doctor at the hospital caring for the individual told the Associated Press that he is “doing well and we expect that he will continue to do well.” 

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and the World Health Organization has warned that Africa’s “fragile health systems” could prevent nations from responding, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nearly 50 countries have reported cases within their borders, prompting the WHO to increase its risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high at a global level,” the highest level of alert, Vox reported. The total number of countries reporting confirmed cases has increased from 26 last week to 49 as of Friday. (RELATED: Traveler ‘Cleared’ Of Coronavirus Appears On Fox News, Coughs On Child While Saying ‘It Is Contagious’)

Experts are concerned about the coronavirus entering Nigeria due to its huge population with many vulnerable people, and also because containment is “difficult if not impossible,” Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Twitter, Vox reported. 

Nigeria had experienced part of the Ebola epidemic in 2014, which spread through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. But the coronavirus is much more difficult to contain than Ebola since it can be transmitted through a cough or sneeze, according to Vox

More than 2,800 people have died of the coronavirus globally and more than 83,000 cases have been confirmed.