The Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform of Algeria has reported the country’s first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), making it the second case in Africa after the first was reported earlier this month in Egypt.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa announced this in a statement posted on its website.

According to WHO, health authorities report that tests indicate that an Italian adult, who arrived in the country on 17 February, 2020 has tested positive for coronavirus disease.

Algeria is one of the 47 countries in the WHO African region.

“This is the first case in the WHO African region.

“The window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO, Regional Director for Africa, urged all countries in the region to prepare for the virus.

“All countries must ramp up their preparedness activities,” she said.

She said Algeria was one of 13 countries, which WHO has identified as a top priority for preparedness measures due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China.

WHO is preparing to deploy a team of experts to Algeria to support health authorities.

Meanwhile, at an emergency meeting on Saturday with African health ministers at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, WHO pledged to support Africa in its response plan.

It pledged to support Africa on joint coronavirus disease preparedness and response strategies as the threat looms over the continent.

However, WHO had conducted a survey with countries to assess their overall readiness for COVID-19 and found Africa readiness level was estimated at 66 percent.

Moeti said there was still a gap to be filled in the continent level of readiness.

“We need urgently to prioritise strengthening the capacities for countries to investigate alerts, treat patients in isolation facilities and improve infection, prevention and control in health facilities and in communities,’’ she said.

Coronavirus was first detected in China in December 2019 and has spread to more than 30 other countries, including U.S, U.K, Singapore, France, Russia, Spain, and India.

In China, the death toll from the outbreak reached 2,663 on Tuesday, with nearly 76,700 confirmed cases as health experts scramble to find a cure.

The virus, which broke out in Wuhan, China, has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700.