Africa not clear of COVID-19 pandemic despite reduction in infections, W.H.O. warns

Despite infections rates declining in many African countries over the last two months, the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) warned that the continent was not yet free of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a W.H.O. report released on Thursday, in the course of the last four weeks, 77,147 new cases were reported, down from 131,647 recorded in the previous four weeks.

The report said some of the continent’s worst-affected countries have recorded reductions in infections every week over the past two months. Moreover, deaths attributed to COVID-19 have also remained low in the region.

W.H.O. Executive Director Dr. Mike Ryan on Friday said that though the pandemic was not a “catastrophe” in the continent, African countries needed to remain alert and continue to do testing and surveillance.

“Africa is not out of the woods. Vigilance is absolutely required and we celebrate that Africa has not been hit in the way that it could have been. There are still many countries who may struggle if their systems become overwhelmed,” Ryan said.

Ryan said that one area African countries suffered in during the pandemic, aside from the disease itself, was the disruption of other health services.

“That, in itself, is having an impact and something we need to deal with in terms of recovery of those systems, and avoid that negative impact of diversion of health care and health care services,” he said.

Ryan praised the continent’s overall response to the pandemic noting that Africa had many lessons to teach the world on how to be “resilient” and “creative”.

“We need to look at the bottom-up approaches in Africa, the way in which responses are localized and communities participate and the focus of health systems.”

“So many of my African health colleagues, when you talk about a public health problem, the first thing they will say to you is ‘What does the community think?’. It is instinctively much more whereas you talk to Northern medical colleagues…we medicalise and bio-medicalise every situation.”

According to figures from the Africa CDC, as of September 25, Africa has reported 1,437,339 coronavirus cases, 1,185,054 recoveries and 35,009 deaths.

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