The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic has spread from China to 25 countries. Local cycles of transmission have already occurred in 12 countries after case importation. In Africa, Egypt has so far confirmed one case. The management and control of COVID-19 importations heavily rely on a country's health capacity. Here we evaluate the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against their risk of importation of COVID-19.
We used data on the volume of air travel departing from airports in the infected provinces in China and directed to Africa to estimate the risk of importation per country. We determined the country's capacity to detect and respond to cases with two indicators: preparedness, using the WHO International Health Regulations Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; and vulnerability, using the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index. Countries were clustered according to the Chinese regions contributing most to their risk.
Countries with the highest importation risk (ie, Egypt, Algeria, and South Africa) have moderate to high capacity to respond to outbreaks. Countries at moderate risk (ie, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, and Kenya) have variable capacity and high vulnerability. We identified three clusters of countries that share the same exposure to the risk originating from the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and the city of Beijing, respectively.
Many countries in Africa are stepping up their preparedness to detect and cope with COVID-19 importations. Resources, intensified surveillance, and capacity building should be urgently prioritised in countries with moderate risk that might be ill-prepared to detect imported cases and to limit onward transmission.
In The Lancet