World, Health, Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

WHO urges Africa to step up virus preventive measures

Health systems in Africa were weak even before coronavirus pandemic, says regional director

Felix Tih and Andrew Wasike   | 02.04.2020
WHO urges Africa to step up virus preventive measures

ANKARA / NAIROBI

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Africa director urged on Thursday African countries to tighten up measures against the spread of coronavirus.

"It is a combination of approaches. It means rigorous, meticulous application of public health measures.

"It is governments' working with partners to provide what is needed for people, including mitigating more restrictive measures," Matshidiso Moeti told a joint media briefing with representatives of the WHO and World Economic Forum.

Meanwhile, Dr Zabulon Yoti, WHO's regional emergencies director for African region, said they were "working with countries to estimate their needs and capacities." 

He said health systems in Africa were weak, even before the pandemic, with minimal supplies of intensive care unit equipment and ventilators.

Total cases

There are a total of 3,626 COVID-19 cases in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 74 deaths and 183 recoveries, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of infections has been recorded in Southern Africa.

South Africa leads with 1,380 cases followed by Zambia (36), Namibia (13), Mozambique (10), Swaziland (9), Zimbabwe (8), Angola (7) and Botswana (4).

A total of nine COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in this part.

Western Africa follows with the second-highest regional number of virus cases, registering 1,190 cases with the highest being in Burkina Faso (282).

Following Burkina Faso is Ghana (195), Ivory Coast (190), Senegal (190), Nigeria (174), Togo (36), Niger (34), Mali (28), Guinea (22), Benin (13), Guinea Bissau (9), Cape Verde (6), Liberia (6), Gambia (4) and Sierra Leona (1).

In third place is Eastern Africa, which has a total of 544 positive diagnosis and 11 deaths, a majority of which have been recorded in the Island nation of Mauritius -- 161.

After Mauritius is Rwanda (82), Kenya (81), Madagascar (54), Uganda (44), Djibouti (33), Ethiopia (29), Tanzania (20), Eritrea (18), Seychelles (10), Sudan (7) and Somalia (5).

Central Africa has the fourth place in the region with 425 people testing positive for the virus.

Cameroon leads with 233 cases followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (123), Congo (19), Gabon (18), Equatorial Guinea (15), Central African Republic (8), Chad (7) and Burundi (2).

West Africa leads in the number of COVID-19 deaths with 34, followed by Central Africa (20), East Africa (11) and South Africa (9).

Most recoveries from the viral disease were recorded also in West Africa where a total of 123 people recovered followed by South Africa (34), Central Africa (14) and East Africa (9).

Many economies in Africa have slowed down due to the outbreak.

The healthcare systems are also facing challenges as the pandemic came at a time when Africa was already battling endemic diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

African governments have introduced numerous measures to stem the virus spread, including closing schools, imposing travel restrictions, and banning large gatherings.

Global snapshot

After first appearing in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, the virus has spread to at least 180 countries and regions.

The global death toll from the virus has hit over 49,200 with over 965,200 confirmed cases, and more than 203,000 recoveries, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

While the epicenter has shifted from mainland China to Europe, the highest number of cases is in the U.S.

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