DURBAN – Six months since the Coronavirus was first detected in Africa, the pandemic’s evolution on the continent has been different than other parts of the world.
There have been more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, and 23,000 deaths, while the US has recorded 5 million and Europe as a whole has seen over 207 000 confirmed virus deaths.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) many African governments were quick to impose lockdowns and key public health measures that helped to slow down the virus. Over time preventive, diagnostic and treatment measures have been strengthened.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Thursday, six months after Africa declared it’s first Covid-19 case Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said: “As we have seen in other regions, as people start to move around, start to have mass gatherings, schools reopen and religious gatherings start, we do expect to see an increase in cases.”
She pointed to Kenya, Ethiopia, Algeria and Ghana as countries where this had already begun to happen, as well as Nigeria, Madagascar and Zambia. However, other countries – including Cameroon, the Seychelles and South Africa, by far the worst affected place in Africa – were reporting fewer cases than in previous months.
A recent WHO assessment based on self-reporting by 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that the countries improved their capacity to respond to Covid-19. WHO measured countries’ readiness in a range of areas including coordination, surveillance, laboratory capacity, case management, infection prevention and control. Six months ago, the score was 62 percent and now it is 78 percent.
All countries can now diagnose Covid-19, with 14 performing over 100 tests per 10 000 population. Production of oxygen, critical for severely ill Covid-19 patients, has also considerably increased, with the number of oxygen plants in the region rising to 119 from 68 at the onset, while the number of oxygen concentrators has more than doubled to over 6000.
“Not only must we keep up with the evolving trends, we must also anticipate, predict and act faster to head off potentially disastrous outcomes. Areas of high transmission, as well as localities with relatively fewer infections both, deserve attention. In short, we must be strong on all fronts,” said Dr Moeti.
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