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The Egyptian Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus in Africa on Friday. This came after the ministry conducted several tests for the carrier.

In a statement issued on Friday, the ministry confirmed that the carrier was not Egyptian but didn’t disclose the nationality.

“The ministry has taken preventative measures and is monitoring the patient… who is stable,” said health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed.

Egyptian authorities had notified the World Health Organization and the patient been placed in quarantined isolation in hospital.

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What it means: The development made Egypt the first country in the African continent to report a confirmed case, and the second in the Middle East region, after the United Arab Emirates late last month diagnosed its first cases.

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The death toll from the epidemic virus has neared 1,400 cases, almost exclusively in China where it was first identified.

Deep trade links with China and often overstretched healthcare systems have raised concerns about the capacity of African countries to respond to an outbreak.

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Earlier this month, Egypt suspended all flights on its national carrier to China and insisted the flights will remain grounded until the end of the month.

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Meanwhile, 301 Egyptians were evacuated from Wuhan, epicentre of the virus in China, and have remained in quarantine for 14 days.

Updates of the spread: China on Friday reported 121 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, 116 of which are from the epicentre of the infection in Hubei Province alone, bringing to at least 1,380 the total number of deaths across the country.

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The latest toll reflected the removal of some deaths that had been double-counted in Hubei, the health commission said. On Thursday, Chinese health officials had already reported 1,367 deaths.

Hubei and its capital Wuhan, where the infection now known as COVID-19 is thought to have originated in late December, also reported a further 4,823 new cases of the infection, taking the total in the province alone to 51,986.

Nationwide, there are 5,090 new cases pushing the total number to nearly 64,000 as of Friday.

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