WHO warns Africa is ill-equipped to deal with coronavirus

By Dilian Welleng in Yaounde –

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: WHO Director General

The World Health Organisation, WHO has sent out a warning indicating that Africa does not have adequate health facilities to handle cases of the deadly coronavirus.

The alert was raised recently by WHO director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a meeting of African health ministers at the African Union, AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

It is worth mentioning that he was speaking via video link from Geneva.

“Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for COVID-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems,” Dr Tedros stated.

“If COVID-19 starts to spread on the continent, African health systems will struggle to treat patients suffering from symptoms such as respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure,” he added

He went on to state that, “These patients require intensive care using equipment such as respiratory support machines that are, as you know, in short supply in many African countries and that’s a cause for concern”. 

The WHO boss further called on African Union member states “to come together to be more aggressive in attacking” the virus, known as COVID-19.

So far, Egypt is the only country in Africa to have registered a confirmed case of contamination.

AU Commission chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat told officials at the meeting to take “drastic preventive and control measures”.

“Our dear continent, Africa, is particularly at risk, given its relatively fragile health systems,” he said. 

“African countries have been scrambling to develop the capacity to test for COVID-19,” he added.

It should be said that in three weeks, the number of African countries capable of conducting their own tests has jumped from two to 26. 

Several African airlines including Kenya Airways have suspended flights to China, although the continent’s biggest carrier Ethiopian Airlines has kept its China routes open.

Liu Yuxi, China’s ambassador to the AU, talking during the AU health summit urged officials to ease travel restrictions

It should be recalled that the outbreak which began in December has already killed more than 2,200 people and infected more than 75,500 in China.

More than 1,150 people have also been infected outside China. There have been more than 200 suspected cases in the WHO’s AFRO region, which includes most African countries, though nearly all have been confirmed negative, regional director Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti said.

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