The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday urged that testing be expanded beyond African capital cities.
The African Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti, said since the epidemic spreads to provinces and districts, the response needs to be decentralised.
“Expanding testing capacities beyond capital cities, using the existing polio infrastructure, and engaging community health workers, volunteers and partners,” he said.
“There’s some testing capacity… there’s a lot of work needed, and we are facing massive challenges in terms of procurement of supplies & equipment that is needed,” he tweeted.
He also said “last week, some scientists made deeply upsetting remarks about vaccine trials in Africa”.
“To be clear, whether we test vaccines in Africa, Europe or elsewhere, the same ethical and safety standards will apply.”
Mr Moeti said (about) 18 countries still have less than 20 confirmed cases thus “we still have a narrow window of opportunity to contain this threat”.
“We have found that the recovery rates in the WHO Africa Region are at 9.4 per cent. This is slightly lower that some other regions. We do know, of course, that there are people in our region with pre-existing health conditions and health systems here are weaker,” he said.
He said lockdowns are having a big cost, “but the agency and countries really need to work together to make sure we benefit from them.”
“There is a need to have solidarity and a global approach in response to this outbreak. If we are having many cases, it will also affect other parts of the world.
“There’s been a lot of talk on the use of masks in the context of Africa. The use of masks in crowded, low-resource communities, may help as part of a comprehensive COVID-19 response. This needs to be done with precautions, so that they don’t exacerbate risks.
“We’ve emphasised repeatedly that the shortage of diagnostic kits at the global level or this virus is a huge concern,” he added.
He said the pandemic is rapidly evolving in Africa.
In the past week, there have been over 10,000 confirmed cases across the African continent and over 500 people have died.
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