CAPE TOWN – A World Health Organization (WHO) representative for Africa says that the lessons learnt from managing the Ebola outbreak from 2014–2016 could help public health officials prepare for major Covid-19 outbreaks.
Dr. Michel Yao Programme Manager for Emergency Response at the WHO Regional Office for Africa says, “We took the lessons learnt from the Ebola outbreak as a guideline for other countries on how to handle the novel Coronavirus”. As the spread of Covid-19 continues across the world with over 204,000 confirmed cases and 8,244 deaths, experts are working around the clock to understand the characteristics of the novel virus and compare its death rate in relation to other deadly diseases such as Ebola and SARS or Severe acute respiratory syndrome.
According to the WHO, there were 3444 confirmed cases of Ebola and 2264 deaths, making the fatality rate approximately 65%. It was a disease that spread through bodily fluids such as sweat and blood and it mostly only spread when the patient was very sick and in the last stages of the disease.
Covid-19 has been shown to be more contagious, however, the fatality rate is currently only approximately 4%. Dr. Yao says countries should always be thinking about the worst-case scenario, and this would be a wide community transmission where hundreds of cases are confirmed a day.
“The best thing we can do for our continent is to keep the outbreak in a small cluster and to do so we need a comprehensive list of contact and following it up so that any new cases can be isolated.”
In order to manage the continued spread of the virus, Dr. Yao suggests that countries should: Increase the treatment capacity in medical centres if it is needed. Prepare the community with the right information about how they can prevent this virus. Educate the community on ways in which they can contribute to the control measures put in place by officials.
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