International health officials are struggling to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In both America and Africa, the growth in the number of people infected has made health organizations review their strategies.
At the end of Monday morning, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) presented in Washington an overview of the situation of the epidemic in the American continent. According to the organization, in the last ten days, 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, in addition to the United States and Canada have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19).
Until last Friday (6), 257 cases were confirmed in ten countries and four territories in the region (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, French Guiana, Martinique, Mexico, Dominican Republic, São Martinho and São Bartolomeu Island).
In addition, the Argentine Ministry of Health announced on Saturday (7) the death of a 64-year-old man from the new coronavirus. He is the first recorded Covid-19 victim in Latin America.
“Countries need to be ready to respond, with the tools they have, to the situation we are facing today, with imported cases, but also to prepare for tomorrow, with the possibility of localized outbreaks or community transmission,” said Carissa F. Etienne, Director of PAHO.
According to her, the Organization has strengthened the surveillance activities of its Member States for the early detection of possible cases imported from COVID-19 and to guarantee the preparation of health services. 29 labs across the region are ready to perform COVID-19 tests and diagnostics. The director revealed that she fears an overreaction of the population to the outbreak.
For the deputy director of PAHO, Jarbas Barbosa, it is still early to project the future of the virus in the region. However, it is very likely that there will be an increase in the number of infected and in the countries that register cases.
Strategy change also in Africa
With the cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed the way it has been acting on the African continent: what was previously considered a readiness mode now becomes a response mode.
Governments must do everything possible to prepare for an eventual outbreak: time is critical”.
“We are asking all countries to urgently invest in preparing for the arrival of cases and prioritize the protection of health professionals, individuals at risk and better communicate the risks of transmission to their people. Governments must do everything possible to prepare for an eventual outbreak: time is critical, ”said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Last week, WHO called two meetings to define strategies on the continent: one in Nairobi with the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Health of Kenya, the African Union and the main partner agencies of the United Nations, and another in Dakar, with partners French speakers. Guidelines have recently been published by WHO on topics such as quarantine measures, repatriation of citizens and preparation in the workplace.
Last Saturday (7), the United Nations (WHO) reported that the global number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, exceeded 100 thousand. WHO called on all countries to continue striving to limit the number of cases and delay the spread of the virus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December last year.
COVID-19 disease is transmitted in a very similar way to the flu or common cold: face-to-face contact with sneezing or coughing or contact with secretions from infected people. According to the information available to date, the vast majority of cases of the disease (80%) are mild and approximately 2% of cases can result in death. Deaths occurred mainly in the elderly or those living with diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
While high-level coordination is vital to responding effectively to COVID-19, there are several simple ways to stem the spread of the disease. This includes washing your hands regularly with soap and water, coughing or sneezing on a piece of fabric or bent elbow, making sure to safely discard the fabric afterward. It is also important to maintain a social distance of at least one meter, especially if the person is coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; and seek medical attention early if a person develops a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.