World, Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19 consequences will be 'profound' in Africa: WHO

There are over 17,000 confirmed cases across the continent, says WHO Africa director

Felix Tih   | 16.04.2020
COVID-19 consequences will be 'profound' in Africa: WHO


The coronavirus pandemic will bear harsh consequences in Africa and the continent needs collective action to diminish its impacts, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa said Thursday.

There are over 17,000 confirmed cases across Africa, as the pandemic has reached each corner of the continent, Matshidiso Moeti told a joint media briefing with the WHO and World Economic Forum.

She said humanitarian and economic consequences of the COVID-19 "pandemic will be profound in Africa, and we need solidarity and collective action to mitigate the impacts."

Moeti urged countries to ensure the "maintenance of essential health services" and said, "other basic services must be a priority so that gains made in recent years are not reversed."  

The WHO official added that they worked with Jack Ma Foundation and the Ethiopian government to begin solidarity flights transporting essential supplies and equipment to African countries, including personal protective equipment, as healthcare workers can safely treat 30,000 patients.

The continent has also recorded 3,271 coronavirus recoveries and 896 deaths, according to the WHO’s regional office for Africa.

"I have a lot of faith in African people and our communities," Moeti said.

US-WHO spat 

The WHO official said U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the WHO will have significant consequences.

"The United States is the number one contributor to our budget," Moeti said. "The potential impact of this decision will be quite significant on areas such as polio eradication."

She added that other priority programs that address infectious diseases, such as HIV and malaria, will also be affected.

The U.S. president Tuesday announced that he was suspending funding for the WHO, accusing the organization of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the spread of the coronavirus.

Moeti added that the U.S. government is an important partner for the WHO, not just in financial terms.

"They are important players in the WHO's policy and strategy making. We value the relationship," she said.

The virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China late last year, has spread to at least 185 countries and territories. It has killed more than 138,000 people and infected over 2 million so far.

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