All of Africa is at risk, says WHO

Published Mar 17, 2020


CAPE TOWN - World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa's Dr. Michel Yao chats to Kelly-Jane Turner about the impact Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had on Africa and the continent's readiness as the global pandemic worsens.

The novel coronavirus or Covid-19 has now entered its 11th week since the first identified case in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The countries with the highest number of confirmed cases are China, Italy, and Iran which cumulatively make up for approximately 68% of cases.

At the time of writing Africa is one of the least-affected continents, however, Dr. Michel Yao Programme Manager for Emergency Response at the WHO Regional Office for Africa said: “Our assessment is now that all African countries are at high risk”. The first confirmed case on the African continent came on the 8th of March when a German tourist died in Egypt.

Dr. Yao says that since the beginning of this month most of the cases in Africa have been sporadic and that the continent has not yet moved into a wide local transmission phase. There are now more than 350 cases recorded in 28 countries in Africa, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation late on Sunday evening and declared that Covid-19 had become a “national disaster”. At least 62 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the country with more tests underway.

Dr. Yao says their assessment concluded that many of the confirmed cases in African countries were imported from places where there were high local transmissions. “There is a need to strengthen some of the interventions. Our first assessment was looking at the link that African countries had with China, but we have now also shifted our focus to European countries, especially with Federate connections with African countries. All African countries are at high risk.”

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