The World Health Organization has warned that African countries should prepare for the worst as coronavirus numbers continue to increase across the continent.
Speaking during a Press conference on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said coronavirus is presenting an unprecedented threat.
“Don’t assume your community won’t be affected. Prepare as if it will be. Don’t assume you won’t be infected. Prepare as if you will be,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.
“We probably have undetected cases. We have to prepare for the worst. In other countries we have seen how the virus actually accelerates after a certain tipping point. So the best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst,” he added.
So far, WHO reports that there are over slightly over 591 coronavirus patients in Africa and the numbers are rising each day.
Egypt reported the largest number of positive cases (196), followed by South Africa (116), Algeria (72), Morocco (49), Senegal (31), Burkina Faso (20), Cameroon (10), Rwanda (8), Democratic Republic of Congo (7), Ghana (7) and Kenya (7).
Others listed on the WHO website are Côte d’Ivoire (6), Ethiopia (6), Seychelles (4), Congo (3), Nigeria (3), Tanzania (3), Liberia (2), Namibia (2), Zambia (2), Benin (1), Central African Republic (1), Equatorial Guinea (1), Eswatini (1), Gabon (1), Guinea (1), Gambia (1), Mauritania (1), Somalia (1), Sudan (1) and Togo (1).
Number of coronavirus deaths reported in Africa were at 15 as of Wednesday with Algeria topping the list with five casualties.
WHO however reports that there are 48 people who have recovered after contracting the COVID-19 disease: Egypt (32), Algeria (12) and the rest are from Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.
On Wednesday, Dr. Ghebreyesus said despite the rising number of positive cases, there is hope.
“Physical distancing measures – like cancelling sporting events, concerts and other large gatherings – can help to slow transmission of the virus. They can reduce the burden on the health system,” he said.
The WHO boss further appealed to governments to suppress and control epidemics by ensuring that they isolate, test, treat and trace people who may have contracted the novel coronavirus.
According to him, isolating, testing and treating every suspected case and tracing every contact, must be the backbone of the response in every country.
“If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level, then resurge once physical distancing measures are lifted,” he added.
He cited the Republic of Korea saying their unique efforts in combating the pandemic have led to decline in reported cases and “at the peak there were more than 800 cases, and today the report was only 90 cases.”
“A month ago, the Republic of Korea was faced with accelerating community transmission. But it didn’t surrender. It educated, empowered and engaged communities; It developed an innovative testing strategy and expanded lab capacity; It rationed the use of masks; It did exhaustive contact tracing and testing in selected areas,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.
WHO recommends that, wherever possible, confirmed mild cases should be isolated in health facilities, where trained professionals can provide good medical care, and prevent clinical progression and onward transmission.
If that’s not possible, countries can use community facilities to isolate and care for mild cases and refer them for specialized care quickly if needed, the WHO boss added.