Africa’s window to contain coronavirus narrowing, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that about half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a “narrowing’’ opportunity to curb the spread of coronavirus in the local population.

Its Africa Head, Matshidiso Moeti, stated this at a news teleconference.

Moeti said: “The virus has multiplied across Africa more slowly than in Asia or Europe, but more than 40 nations on the continent have now reported a total of 2,850 with 73 fatalities.”It has been a very dramatic evolution.

“Governments across the region needed to invest their efforts in aggressively tracing all those people who have been in contact with imported cases to isolate them and prevent transmission of the disease locally.

“Countries need to work on this containment while preparing for a possible, broader expansion of the virus,”

The effort needs to be accompanied by public education campaigns to ensure people are maintaining physical distances, something that could help limit the spread of the virus.

This should also complement other measures put in place like halting passenger flights.

South Africa has ordered a lockdown of its population for three weeks while Kenya has imposed a night-time curfew to prevent the disease from spreading.

“We still have a window… it is narrowing everyday as data on the geographic spread to more and more countries tell us,” she said.

John Nkengasong, the Head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a health agency of the AU, said African leaders were preparing to engage with their wealthier counterparts to secure vital equipment.

Equipment supplies are respirators and ventilators in case infection rates worsen.

Nkengasong told the same teleconference that countries with advanced industrial bases like South Africa, Egypt and Morocco could be used to produce such equipment if needed.

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