First case of COVID-19 confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

First case of COVID-19 confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa, 10 March 2020 - The Ministry of Public Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reported the country’s first case of COVID-19. Health authorities said tests found that a Congolese national, who had recently returned to Kinshasa from his residence in France had tested positive for the virus.

The DRC is one of eleven countries in Africa to have confirmed a case of COVID-19. The other countries are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. This comes as the country’s largest Ebola outbreak appears to be winding down, with no new cases of the disease confirmed in the past 21 days.

“It is sad to hear that just as the DRC appears to be near ending its worst Ebola outbreak, a new virus is threatening the health of its citizens,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “However, some of the readiness efforts put in place during the Ebola outbreak may help the country respond to COVID-19. WHO is here to support you, just as we continue to do in the Ebola response.”

WHO has provided technical and material support to countries in Africa, including the DRC since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared to be a public health emergency of international concern. WHO has provided testing kits to the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa and other national laboratories as well as training to laboratory technicians. Thirty-nine laboratories in the WHO African region can now test for COVID-19. WHO has dispatched personal protective equipment for health workers, as well as thermometers and other essential supplies for screening and handling suspect cases at airports and other points of entry.

While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, people can take actions to prevent the disease through simple, day-to-day measures.  These include regular hand washing with soap and water; coughing into a tissue or a bent elbow, being sure to safely dispose of the tissue afterwards; maintaining a social distance of at least one metre, particularly if that person is coughing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth; and seeking medical attention early if a person develops a fever or cough.

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