On Tuesday, March 31, Mauritania's Health Minister Mohamed Ould Hamid confirmed the country's first fatality due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual was a 47-year-old French woman of Mauritania descent who arrived in the country on Thursday, March 16. According to authorities, the individual was quarantined upon arrival and began to fall ill on Sunday, March 29. Her condition subsequently worsened on Monday, March 30, and she passed away en-route to hospital.
Meanwhile, a suspension on all flights to and from Mauritania remains in place as of Tuesday, March 31, and border crossing points into the country have been closed. Other quarantine measures remain in place, including the suspension of all cultural activities until further notice. Anyone who has returned to the country from an area where the virus is present within the past 14 days but is not showing symptoms must self-quarantine as a precaution. Additionally, authorities have declared the cities of Nuoakchott and Kaedi as hot spots for COVID-19.
As of March 31, authorities have confirmed six COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.