Officials in at least one African country are monitoring what may be the continent’s first case of the novel coronavirus linked to a live animal and seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Current estimates say that at least 81 people have died of the virus while thousands of others have been sickened worldwide.
The student, a 34-year-old woman who was not identified, returned to the Ivory Coast on Saturday from Beijing. She experienced flu-like symptoms – she was reportedly coughing, sneezing and had trouble breathing – before boarding her flight to Abidjan, the BBC, citing the country’s health officials, reported.
“Her general state is satisfactory. There are, at this stage, suspicions of a case of pneumonia tied to the coronavirus,” Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Officials are now awaiting the woman’s test results, which are expected on Sunday, the outlet reported. In the meantime, the student remains isolated. It’s not clear if she had been to Wuhan.
The outbreak has prompted several countries – including some African countries, namely Nigeria – to implement more rigorous health screenings at airports. But China’s health minister said over the weekend that he believes virus can spread during the incubation period, sparking fears that it can be more easily passed on than previously thought.
National Health Minister Ma Xiaowei made the comments at a press briefing on Sunday and said that information on the virus was limited, making many risks unclear. The incubation period for the novel coronavirus, identified by health officials as 2019-nCoV, can range from one to 14 days, during which it is infectious, he said. While the virus was first linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, officials have since determined that it’s transmissible between humans.
Ma said the country was entering a “crucial” stage in the response efforts as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.”
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.