Africa's Covid-19 peak will have devastating consequences, says Ramaphosa
Cape Town - The number of Covid-19 infections in Africa currently remains lower than elsewhere in the world, but its peak on the continent is yet to come and will have devastating consequences, South African president and chairman of the African Union Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
Ramaphosa told a virtual meeting with AU regional executive communities chairs that he was concerned about the impact that the coronavirus, first reported in China last December, would have on African societies, economies and public health systems.
To effectively protect people against the virus, the continent urgently needed more health workers, medical supplies and equipment including ventilators, he said.
"We are confronted with an unprecedented public health crisis, which poses a real existential threat, with far-reaching socio-economic consequences," Ramaphosa said.
He said two virtual meetings of the Bureau of the Assembly of AU heads of state and government had agreed to establish the AU Covid-19 Response Fund and a drive to raise money for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with $25 million (R461m) and $36.5 million (R673m) raised so far.
The Bureau also agreed to intensively lobby the international community, including financial institutions, for a comprehensive, robust economic stimulus package for Africa.
Ramaphosa said five AU special envoys had been appointed to follow up on pledges and mobilise further international support.
He applauded an initiative by the World Health Organization to accelerate the development of new vaccines, tests and treatments for Covid-19 and urged African countries to support an effort spearheaded by the European Union to mobilise resources towards the effort."
"It is ... essential that we remain guided by the principles of unity, solidarity, collaboration and cooperation among African countries," he said.
"Working together – as leaders, as AU members states and as regional economic communities – I have no doubt that our people will be spared from the worst effects of this global crisis and we will be able to place our continent on a path of recovery and reconstruction."
African News Agency (ANA)