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medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.02.05.20020792


The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic has spread to 23 countries from China. Local cycles of transmission already occurred in 7 countries following case importation. No African country has reported cases yet. The management and control of 2019-nCoV introductions heavily relies on the public health capacity of a country. Here we evaluate the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against their risk of importation of 2019-nCoV. We used data on air travel volumes departing from airports in the infected provinces in China and directed to Africa to estimate the risk of introduction per country. We determined the countries capacity to detect and respond to cases with two indicators: preparedness, using the WHO International Health Regulation Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; and vulnerability, with the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index. Countries were clustered according to the Chinese regions contributing the most to their risk. Findings: Countries at the highest importation risk (Egypt, Algeria, Republic of South Africa) have moderate to high capacity to respond to outbreaks. Countries at moderate risk (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya) have variable capacity and high vulnerability. Three clusters of countries are identified that share the same exposure to the risk originating from the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Beijing, respectively. Interpretation: Several countries in Africa are stepping up their preparedness to detect and cope with 2019-nCoV importations. Resources and intensified surveillance and capacity capacity should be urgently prioritized towards countries at moderate risk that may be ill-prepared to face the importation and to limit onward transmission.