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34 African countries confirm 600 cases in three months

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A security guard stands at the entrance of an hair extension shop wearing a face mask and gloves as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus in the Johannesburg CBD on March 20, 2020. African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic but as cases rise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness. Emmanuel Croset / AFP

Thirty-four African countries yesterday confirmed 600 cases of COVID-19 with 453 cases recorded this week, including that of Nigeria that shot up to 12.

“There are still fewer cases than in other parts of the world,” World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said yesterday in a statement in Maiduguri, Borno State.

She disclosed that African countries could still change the course of the CONVID-19 pandemic even though it has claimed few lives.

Moeti said: “The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action. But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their responses.”

She said 12 countries in Africa were experiencing local transmission.

“It is crucial that governments prevent local transmission from evolving into a worst case scenario of widespread sustained community transmission,” she warned.

Such a scenario, according to her, would present a major challenge to countries with weak health systems.

Moeti noted that Africa could learn from the experiences of other countries, which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing.

She insisted that isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts should be maintained in fighting the deadly virus.

On how to eradicate the disease, she said: “Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve in Africa is still a work in progress. The eradicating response will need to be adapted to the African context – the demographics on the continent are very different from China, Europe and the USA. Africa has the world’s youngest population and it appears that older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19.”


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