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West African health ministers on Friday resolved to strengthen cooperation amongst their countries to deal with the new coronavirus.

The ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in the Malian capital with the stated objective of “strengthening the capacities of national and regional entities in the region in the surveillance, prevention and early detection of epidemics” due to the new coronavirus.

While Egypt on Africa confirmed the first case on the African continent; no cases have been confirmed in ECOWAS. The shortcomings of the health systems in Africa are a concern and experts worry about the consequences that could arise from the emergence of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Today, we have no confirmed cases in the ECOWAS region. But with 380 million people in our sub-region, we don’t even have three laboratories that can take cases effectively,” Malian minister Michel Hamala Sidibé told AFP after the meeting.

During the meeting it was decided to “strengthen cross-border coordination”, as well as vigilance with regard to travellers from China, he said without further details.



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