The disease caused by the new coronavirus COVID-19 has received pandemic status from the World Health Organization (WHO). The decision was announced on Wednesday (11) in Geneva by the head of the agency, Tedros Ghebreyesus.
During the announcement, the director-general of WHO revealed that he is following the virus 24 hours a day and is “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of contagion and inaction.”
The disease, which appeared in late December in China, is now present in 114 countries. As of this Wednesday, more than 118,000 cases and 4,291 deaths have been recorded worldwide. In the past two weeks, the number of new daily cases outside China has increased 13-fold. And WHO believes that number will increase.
China, Italy, South Korea and Japan account for more than 90% of reported cases worldwide. South Korea and China have “epidemics in significant decline,” according to WHO. About 57 countries confirmed less than ten cases. Meanwhile, 81 nations have yet to have a case. Despite this, the WHO chief calls on governments around the world to prepare their hospitals and train their health professionals.
THIRTY-NINE LABORATORIES FROM THE WHO AFRICAN REGION CAN TEST COVID-19
10 African countries at war with COVID-19
Ten countries in Africa have confirmed at least one case of COVID-19. They are Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and Tunisia.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported the first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday (11). He is a Congolese citizen who had recently returned to Kinshasa from his residence in France.
“It is sad to hear that, just as the DRC seems to be almost ending its worst Ebola outbreak, a new virus is threatening the health of its citizens,” said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa . “Some of the preparedness efforts implemented during the Ebola outbreak can help the country respond to COVID-19.”
Thirty-nine laboratories in the WHO African region can test COVID-19. WHO has also sent personal protective equipment to healthcare professionals, as well as thermometers and other essential supplies for screening and treating suspicious cases at airports and other points of entry.
Joint effort in SADC
The Ministers of Health of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to jointly coordinate their efforts to respond to COVID-19 in the region. South Africa confirmed its first case on March 5. It is the first and so far the only SADC country with a record of the disease.
“Although only one country in the SADC region has reported confirmed cases in COVID-19, SADC countries will switch to response mode,” said Tanzanian Stragomena Tax, SADC Secretary-General. According to her, Member States are instituting mechanisms to support the development and implementation of national plans to combat the disease.
The inspiration came from China, which adopted a unified approach to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. “China’s efforts are remarkable and should be commended,” said Devanand Moonasar, interim chief director of communicable diseases at South Africa’s National Health Department.
Ten of the sixteen SADC Member States have already agreed to share information about the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, SADC member countries have decided to suspend face-to-face regional meetings in favor of Internet conferences.