The killer coronavirus sweeping the world may have reached Africa as Sudan has now claimed two patients may have the deadly infection.
Both the patients – citizens of the country in northeast Africa – had returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the escalating outbreak.
The man and woman are currently being monitored by doctors. Officials have not yet confirmed their identities or locations.
Leading scientists fear the virus could be difficult to contain in Africa, warning that medical facilities are ‘extremely limited’ on the continent.
Some 133 people have now died in China and more than 6,000 around the world have caught the highly infectious virus – including the US and Australia.
Both the patients – citizens of the country in northeast Africa – had returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the escalating outbreak
A major road going through the streets of Wuhan remains deserted as people stay at home and avoid transport due to the virus outbreak in the city
No other details have yet emerged for the Sudanese residents. The news agency Reuters said it was given the information by a minister.
Sudanese officials have already enforced strict screening of travellers arriving at airports and shipping ports to try and prevent the spread.
Dr Michael Head, a global health scientist at the University of Southampton, today told MailOnline: ‘All countries are on high risk.
‘Whatever Sudan have in terms of facilities, will be extremely limited. If there are more than a few cases it may be difficult to contain it.’
‘There is quite a few migrant Chinese workers that go to and from Africa a lot to do work such as mining and construction.’
He added a few cases would therefore be expected, but any more than a handful in any African nation would be ‘concerning’.
The killer coronavirus outbreak has now killed 133 people and struck down more than 6,000 in 19 different countries. Cases have been spotted in Canada, US, France and Australia
World Health Organization figures show just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26. This has now risen dramatically to 6,168, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada
As well as a dramatic increase in cases of the never-before-seen virus, figures also show the number of deaths have spiralled
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THIS CORONAVIRUS?
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild lung infections such as the common cold. But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can the Wuhan coronavirus kill?
Yes – 133 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Some people who catch the Wuhan coronavirus may not have any symptoms at all, or only very mild ones like a sore throat or a headache.
Others may suffer from a fever, cough or trouble breathing.
And a small proportion of patients will go on to develop severe infection which can damage the lungs or cause pneumonia, a life-threatening condition which causes swelling and fluid build-up in the lungs.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified around China and are known to have spread from person to person.
CLICK HERE TO SEE MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE CORONAVIRUS
And Dr Head warned Ebola – a haemorrhagic fever that killed 11,000 people in 2014-16 – will be ‘fresh in the memory for African countries’.
But he said: ‘It’s good the country has picked up those cases because surveillance there is generally weaker.
‘The fact they’ve managed to spot the case is a good thing so well wait to see if it comes back as positive.’
Nineteen countries, including China, have confirmed cases of the never-before-seen coronavirus, which experts believe came from bats or snakes.
However, suspected patients have cropped up in a host of other countries since the outbreak first began at the end of December.
Both the US and Canada have confirmed cases, while the infection has also reached Europe with patients struck down in France and Germany.
Britain has yet to record any cases – latest figures show almost 100 people have been tested for the virus but all have come back negative.
In other developments to the ever-growing outbreak today, MailOnline this morning revealed how cases have tripled since Sunday.
Just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by January 26. This has now risen to 6,168, official figures show.
It means the escalating crisis in mainland China is now bigger than the 2003 SARS epidemic, when 5,327 cases of the killer virus were confirmed.
Health officials in Beijing have said they fear the epidemic will continue to get worse and peak ‘in the next 10 days’.
Around 200 British nationals are gearing up to be flown back to London tomorrow via chartered plane in a landmark evacuation mission.
And in a turn of events, the UK has asked the EU for help to repatriate expats – just two days before it crashes out of the bloc.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said evacuees will be held in quarantine in a military base for two weeks to stop the virus spreading on home soil.
A US evacuation flight that took off from Wuhan yesterday is on its way to a military base in Ontario, California. Japan has also already rescued residents.
A pilot wearing a protective suit parks a cargo plane at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province
Chinese tourists wearing protective masks queue at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, as they wait to board flights back to China
Coronavirus patients are deliberately spitting at health care workers to try and spread the killer disease, it has been claimed. Pictured, a patient at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University being treated by medical staff in protective suits