The Central African Republic, a poverty-stricken state that the UN has singled out as highly vulnerable to coronavirus, has stepped up measures over fears that the disease is spreading locally.
President Faustin-Archange Touadera, in a statement received by AFP on Friday, said that after four cases of infection had been detected, all among people coming from abroad, a fifth had now surfaced.
In this light, "there are grounds for fearing local transmission" of coronavirus, he said.
New measures unveiled by the authorities include a two-week ban on people coming in from countries where the virus is being transmitted locally, except for diplomats and NGO workers.
Schools, childcare facilities and universities are being closed, and restrictions have been placed on movement between the capital Bangui and the rest of the country.
The United Nations on Wednesday said the CAR "is one of the least prepared countries to face a COVID-19 outbreak, with 2.2 million people already in need of health assistance and about 70% of health services provided by humanitarian organisations."
The country has been ravaged by three civil wars in 20 years and remains prey to violence from armed groups that control two-thirds of the country.