Coronavirus – Africa: World Health Organization (WHO) urges African

countries to scale up COVID-19 response
The African region is witnessing a rapid rise in the number of
reported confirmed COVID-19 cases
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), March 26, 2020/ — The African
region is witnessing a rapid rise in the number of reported confirmed
COVID-19 cases, with a 25% daily increase over the past five days.
Today, 39 countries reported a total of 216 cases in the past 24
hours, this a significant increase from a month ago, when one country
in the region was reporting a handful of cases. Since the start of the
outbreak, 39 countries have reported more than 1 800 cases of
COVID-19, and there have been 31 deaths.

As the world races to stem the spread of the virus, the World Health
Organization (WHO) in the African Region is calling on countries to
implement critical actions in the next two weeks while there is still
time to prevent the outbreak in the region from overwhelming health
services. “It has been a very dramatic evolution. It is most important
that countries still work very hard on containing the spread of
COVID-19, while preparing for a broader expansion of the virus” said
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Every arm of
every government must work together to stop this virus from wreaking
havoc in Africa. Countries must use this two-week window of
opportunity to scale-up their actions before it is too late.”

In a ten-point strategy released today, the Organization is calling
for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to ease the
deployment of staff and shipment of supplies as well as urging
governments and the private sector to boost medical supplies and
equipment. Under the plan, WHO also asks countries to expand the
numbers of health workers deployed by re-purposing staff, increasing
public health education to help communities stay safe and protect
others, and identifying and equiping facilities to treat and isolate
patients.

WHO has mobilized and re-purposed its personnel, trained more
emergency responders, including through online sessions, and supported
effective coordination for COVID-19 response. “Our top priority is to
support countries in Africa in their response. We need all countries
to act now – both to keep the virus from spreading and to help support
preparedness and response efforts in vulnerable countries,” said Dr
Moeti. The need for urgent action in Africa is clear. Lately cases
have been reported due to contact with people who travelled within
Africa unlike before.

Some national authorities have taken proactive measures to limit or
prevent social interaction, or to implement quarantining and isolation
arrangements. As useful as such measures can be, relying on them
alone is not enough. Core public health actions are needed: a strong
surveillance system, effective screening, efficient contact-tracing,
easy-to-follow public health messaging, and appropriate and targeted
treatment measures are all required in conjunction with isolation and
quarantining.

WHO Regional Office for Africa 10-point strategy:

Mobilize and repurpose personnel to scale up surveillance, medical
care and public awareness.
Train more responders, including through online sessions, to bolster
the response.
Effectively coordinate the work of all stakeholders to improve early
detection and clinical care.
Establish humanitarian corridors to ease surge deployments and supply
shipments.
Rally the world, including the private sector to boost critical
medical supplies and equipment.
Educate communities to protect themselves and others.
Set up scientific and research teams to guide the response, taking
into account Africa’s specificities.
Swiftly contain the spread of the virus to limit economic fallout.
Assist the vulnerable, mainly those needing humanitarian aid, and
ensure continuity of routine essential services.
Create solidarity systems for action in Africa, South-South and
North-South, and mitigate socio-economic disruption.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

SOURCE: WHO Regional Office for Africa