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11 Mar 2020 | 01:50 AM UTC

DRC: First coronavirus case confirmed March 10

Health ministry confirms first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Democratic Republic of Congo on March 10; quarantine measures in place

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Event

The Congolese Minister of Health confirmed the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country on Tuesday, March 10. A Congolese national who lives in France but had traveled to Kinshasa on Sunday, March 8, tested positive for the virus. According to Health Minister Eteni Longondo, the individual had not shown symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival. The patient is in quarantine, along with other persons that had contact with the infected individual.

In response to the first confirmed case, the Council of Ministers passed a series of measures for travelers arriving in the country. Any person arriving in the DRC showing symptoms of the virus will be treated as a suspected case, placed in isolation and treated by the Ministry of Health. Additionally, individuals arriving from France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Iraq, and China who do not show symptoms of coronavirus will be subject to self-quarantine for 14 days and will be monitored by a medical team. Thermal scanners and increased screening measures will also be in place at border posts and airports across the country.

Further international spread of the virus is anticipated over the near term.

Context

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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

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.

Advice

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 non-essential 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 risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by 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, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.