World Health Organization (WHO) tracing portal has tallied about 1,400 confirmed cases in the whole African continent, with over 40 deaths recorded as of March 23. Nigeria, The Gambia and Zimbabwe have reported their first deaths. Forty three (43) countries currently have confirmed cases with Egypt’s 294 followed by South Africa’s 274 and Algeria with 201 confirmed cases in the top three.
“The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action. But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response,” Dr.Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.
“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts,” she added.
WHO has been providing COVID-19 testing kits to countries in Africa, to support governments with early detection of coronavirus infection. About 45 African countries can now test for COVID-19, according to the agency.
The UN health agency is training lab technicians, and strengthening surveillance in communities.
WHO is also providing remote support to affected countries on the use of electronic data tools, so national health authorities can better understand the outbreak in their countries.
Personal protective equipment has been shipped to 24 countries, and a second shipment is being prepared for countries with confirmed cases, the agency reported.
“COVID-19 is one of the biggest health challenges Africa has faced in a generation,” said Dr.Moeti.
“We can only stop this virus through solidarity. And the world is coming together. Donors are stepping up to the plate and providing funding while private sectors in many countries are offering their support as well,” she said.
WHO- Africa said it is using the lessons learned from addressing previous epidemics as its foundation to respond to the current health crisis.
To prevent further spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, WHO assists local authorities to create public service announcements for radio and television to inform the general public about the risks of COVID-19 and what measures should be taken to prevent infection.
The agency is also conducting rumour management in all affected countries, and is guiding countries on setting up call centres and hotlines to ensure public health and safety amid the coronavirus outbreak. (ham/Rights Corridor)