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Coronavirus-Africa: WHO concerned as COVID-19 cases increase in Africa

For socially restrictive measures to be effective, they must be accompanied by strong, sustained and targeted public health measures that locate, isolate, test and treat COVID-19 cases says Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

Addressing the restrictive measures during a virtual media briefing held today 2nd April, by the WHO Regional Office for Africa with the support of the World Economic Forum.

Lola Castro, the WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa also pointed out that It’s vital that ports continue to operate to receive food and other essential humanitarian cargo; that borders and roads stay open so it can be moved where it is most needed; and that distributions to vulnerable people are conducted safely.

“It’s also crucial that the international community promptly provide the considerable funding needed to maintain and scale up assistance programmes,” she said.

To contain COVID-19, many countries in Africa including Nigeria are implementing measures, which restricts gathering and the movement of people.

With more than 6000 COVID-19 cases reported in Africa, the virus is threatening fragile health systems on the continent.

Infections are increasingly spreading not only between African 54 countries but within different localities in the hardest-hit countries.

“Case numbers are increasing exponentially in the African region,” said Moeti.

“It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in the Region to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after this, there were 2000 cases, and two days later we were at 3000,” she said.

However, governments must use these measures in a considered, evidence-based manner, and make sure that people can continue to access basic necessities.

As many people in the region live in crowded conditions or work in the informal sector and need to earn money daily to survive, it is important that countries make provisions to ensure that people can still access essential services.

WHO is working closely with national governments and United Nations partners including the World Food Programme (WFP) to plan for these needs.

As well as ensuring basic needs are met, WHO is pursuing innovative solutions to the region’s pressing public health problems.

 

Anthonia Obokoh

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