COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa: A brief information about what has happened so far

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Precious Folaranmi

Due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases most countries have closed entries such as airports and some seaports. Citizens are placed under lockdown and also encouraged to practice Physical distancing in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Sports activities have been banned in countries like Botswana, Ghana, and Ethiopia.

Also, citizens have been banned from gathering at places of worship and other social gatherings (markets and night clubs) in nations like Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Nigeria.
In some places in Malawi, 18 hours power supply has been made available for citizens.

Frequent and thorough washing of hands with water and soap has been recommended by experts for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if water and soap are not available. Citizens of various countries in Africa just like other parts of the world have also been admonished to practice good respiratory hygiene. They have been encouraged to cover their mouth the arm when coughing or sneezing and avoid close contact with those infected.

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Also, touching the face with the hand should also be avoided because the major routes of the virus into the body are the mouth, eyes and ears. Self-isolation Is the best if any individual shows symptoms of COVID 19 which include sneezing, coughing, fever, etc. The use of nose mask to prevent contact with droplets of an infected person is equally important.

Screening at points of entry for COVID 19 had been introduced at airports and seaports in some countries. International travellers are screened at these points of entry. Temperature scanner is used to detect travellers showing symptoms of the virus.
Training of healthcare workers and response team on external quality assessment and proficiency testing for all laboratories with COVID 19-testing capacity has been done in some African countries. Health ministers and National disease control agencies are also on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

WHO has supported the management of COVID 19 in few states in Nigeria. The support includes the following; the point of entry, epidemiology and surveillance, laboratory services, infection, prevention and control, case management, risk communication, logistics and supplies, coordination and control.

Isolation centres, Coordination centres and emergency centres are also available in a few numbers across various countries. In Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Botswana, isolation and quarantine centres have been identified where laboratory test is carried out on suspected cases. There has been the establishment of diagnostic capacity in three laboratories in Nigeria in one month.

In Kenya, UN volunteers have been working alongside the country Executive Committee members for health in 10 countries to help in response planning and preparedness. They are presently helping with planning coordination and documentation of engagements between the partners and ministry in the public and private sectors, including UN entities on COVID-19 preparedness and response.

In conclusion, Africa’s response to the pandemic has been slow with various countries trying to catch up with responses. Have we started the journey in  Africa? Yes, but we are still behind in so many areas.

Precious Folaranmi (Volunteer, Global Light Diagnostic and Research Center)

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