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WHO concerned about Africa as COVID-19 cases accelerate across the continent

To contain COVID-19, many countries in Africa are implementing measures, which restrict gatherings and the movement of people

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

With more than 6000 COVID-19 cases reported in Africa, the virus is threatening fragile health systems on the continent. Infections are increasingly spreading not only between African countries but within different localities in the hardest-hit countries.

For instance, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where COVID-19 cases were at first confined to Kinshasa, now a handful of cases have been reported in the easternmost regions of the country that were until recently in the grip of an Ebola outbreak. In South Africa, all provinces have now reported cases. The outbreaks in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Senegal are also widespread.

“Case numbers are increasing exponentially in the African region,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa “It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in the Region to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after this, there were 2000 cases, and two days later we were at 3000.”

To contain COVID-19, many countries in Africa are implementing measures, which restrict gatherings and the movement of people. Nationwide lockdowns are in effect in Kenya, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo and elsewhere. However, governments must use these measures in a considered, evidence-based manner, and make sure that people can continue to access basic necessities.

As many people in the region live in crowded conditions or work in the informal sector and need to earn money daily to survive, it is important that countries make provisions to ensure that people can still access essential services. WHO is working closely with national governments and United Nations partners including the World Food Programme (WFP) to plan for these needs.

Dr Moeti and Ms Lola Castro, the WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa, addressed the restrictive measures during a virtual media briefing held today by the WHO Regional Office for Africa with the support of the World Economic Forum.

“For socially restrictive measures to be effective, they must be accompanied by strong, sustained and targeted public health measures that locate, isolate, test and treat COVID-19 cases,” Dr Moeti pointed out.

“It’s vital that ports continue to operate to receive food and other essential humanitarian cargo; that borders and roads stay open so it can be moved where it is most needed; and that distributions to vulnerable people are conducted safely,” said Ms Castro.

“It’s also crucial that the international community promptly provide the considerable funding needed to maintain and scale up assistance programmes.”

As well as ensuring basic needs are met, WHO is pursuing innovative solutions to the region’s pressing public health problems. On 1 April 2020, WHO hosted an online training session on the clinical management of COVID-19 cases. Nearly 500 attendees from across Africa logged in to learn about issues including case characterization and triage, treating severely ill cases, infection prevention and control, and how to quarantine and manage cases in the community. WHO also hosted a three-day ‘hackathon’, bringing together Africa’s brightest minds to find solutions to some of the problems COVID-19 has presented.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

WHO Regional Office for Africa


  1. Thanks for your concerns but I don’t think concerns ever saved a life. We are using every little resource we have to fight this as we know we are a forgotten continent when it comes to global disasters. The attention will only come here after Europe’s situation has calm down. However long gone are the days we would wait to be saved by a whlte messiah. We already taking the necessary steps to fight a virus which has been escalated by Europe. You can thank us later . For now we continue to do a good job in difficult circumstances

  2. Ka KZ fyonse kulandapo even when 99pc of the times taka panga sense. Sometimes just read and pass my guy.

  3. with no real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR), we will be detecting the virus so late, we could have gone nuclear longtime ago, God help us

  4. But what are we doing as zambians, cant we devise ways of tracking this virus other than folding our arms and waiting for a solution from abroad, we need to step up to the dinner plate, who are we kanshi?

  5. Unless people take restriction measures seriously, this is going to be a hard battle to win for Africa.

    Lockdowns may be uncomfortable and even seem counterproductive for a while but they’re the only effective methods to suppress the rising numbers of infections. Meanwhile, as someone said, let us try to be more innovative and find means of dealing with this challenge in our own capacity.

  6. WHO’s concerns are genuine but with these African leaders with primitive idealogies, some have eyes and yet they can’t see, they have ears but can’t hear. They have decided to taken a slow pace in tackling this pandemic, it’s not long ago when the Tanzanian president told his people to go churches pray over the disease when people all over the world were canceling all types of gatherings. It’s now that 1 is dead realizes the importance of lockdown. Almost the entire neighbors of Zambia are on lockdown but we have the sitting Tenant plot 1 (Edgar Chagwa Lungu) who dilly darling with this pandemic. He must lockdown the country and let people stay home.

  7. Majority in Zambia are those who work to get through the day. A little piece work here, a little vending there. There are no savings to get you through a week.

    A lockdown in Europe, and a lockdown in Africa will produce very different results.

  8. Africans spread AIDs …it came from there aFRICA …and the World Suffers to this day…lool This will kill fast and end but whatr africans brought HIV/AIDS will continue…

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