Three Africans have been named as special envoys on the coronavirus, as the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed growing concern Friday over the COVID-19 spread in Iran, South Korea and beyond the borders of China.
The three envoys will serve to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in different parts of the world. They include Egyptian Dr. Maha El Rabbat, that nation’s former heath minister; Professor Samba Sow, director of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali, and Dr. John Nkengasong, current director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“WHO’s key role is coordinating the global response to the epidemic, and our new special envoys will help us to do that. This is another step we are taking to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have to contain this outbreak,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general. “Once again, the measures China and other countries have taken have given us a fighting chance of containing the spread of the virus.”
Yet there’s growing concern over containment, as South Korea’s case count surged and Italy reported a new cluster of COVID-19 cases near Milan. Cases in Canada and Lebanon were confirmed in people who traveled to Iran but with no connection to China, where the city of Wuhan remains at the epicenter. And several nations, including Australia and the United States, are caring for coronavirus patients who were infected aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
People from 22 countries who were cruise ship passengers were headed home Friday, according to CNN, which raises concerns of coronavirus spread into other countries.
COVID-19 has now spread to 28 nations, although only Egypt has confirmed a case on the African continent. WHO reports 76,769 confirmed cases globally with 2,239 deaths, nearly all of them in China.
Image: University of Hong Kong