Covid-19 infections expected to exceed one million cases in the coming days. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Africa to exceed one million cases , says WHO

“As Africa approaches one million cases, the continent is at a pivotal point.The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands. We can still stop Covid-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now.”

DURBAN – With Covid-19 infections expected to exceed one million cases in Africa in the coming days, the World Health Organization (WHO) says one of the most important collective responsibilities is to protect front line health workers, who are at high risk.

According to WHO, the pandemic is accelerating with the number of new cases increasing by 50% during the last 14 days compared with the previous fortnight. However, only five countries account for about 75% of the cumulative Covid-19 cases; they are Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

“As Africa approaches one million cases, the continent is at a pivotal point.The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands. Countries need to keep apace and urgently decentralize their key response services. We can still stop Covid-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

As borders start to re-open and with the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, about to begin, the WHO has released guidance to countries and communities on public health measures for Eid Al Adha in the context of Covid-19.

“As we approach the Eid Al Adha feast, there is also increased risk of transmission as a result of social and religious mass gatherings. Any decision to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a standardized risk assessment, and should be part of a comprehensive approach taken by authorities to respond to the pandemic,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Although infections are on the rise across the continent, the organisation says nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reported a decline in cases over the past three weeks; most of the reported cases are imported. In Egypt, Africa’s second most populous country and one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, a decline in cases has been observed over the last five weeks.

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