from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA – AT least 210 people have been investigated for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Africa since fears of an outbreak in the continent.
Of these, 204 cases have been ruled out as negative while six cases were still pending at the time of publication.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed the figures at the weekend as it pledged to support African Union (AU) member states on a common preparedness and response strategy.
“We need urgently to prioritise strengthening the capacities for countries to investigate alerts, treat patients in isolation facilities and improve infection, prevention and control in health facilities and in communities,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa, said.
She was speaking at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the just-ended emergency meeting on the COVID-19 outbreak.
The virus has killed no less than 2 460 people globally since it broke out in China at the end of 2019.
Moeti was concerned at the findings of a recent WHO survey that Africa’s readiness levels were estimated at 66 percent.
“WHO finds there are critical gaps in readiness for countries across the continent,” she said.
“The threats posed by COVID-19 have cast a spotlight on the shortcomings in health systems in the African region,” Moeti added.
It is feared the spilling of the COVID-19 outbreak to Africa would pose a major threat to collapsing health systems in many parts of the continent.
Already, some countries are battling preventable and treatable diseases like cholera, malaria and measles.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the worst affected with a measles outbreak killing over 6 000 people since 2019 and the Ebola killing more than 2 000 since 2018.
– CAJ News