AU urges deepening continental coronavirus prevention efforts as epidemic evolves

The African Union (AU) on Wednesday stressed that capacity building efforts are underway to effectively contain a potential COVID-19 outbreak across the African continent amid greater need to deepen continental preparedness as the epidemic evolves.

The AU, which noted that “all of the confirmed cases in Africa have reported recent travel to or contact with a person who traveled to a country reporting local transmission,” in its latest organisational guidance on COVID-19 and international travel issued on Wednesday stressed that “no country in Africa has reported sustained human-to-human transmission in the community, including widespread transmission.”

“To date, hundreds of personnel from more than 30 member states have been trained on laboratory diagnosis, border screening and surveillance, infection prevention and control, risk communication, and other aspects of COVID-19 control,” the AU statement read.

Noting that six African countries that are Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia have reported confirmed coronavirus cases as of March 3, the 55-member pan African bloc said that “as the epidemic evolves, it is likely that more member states will detect cases and that, eventually, there will be widespread transmission of COVID-19.”

According to the AU, in a bid to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak on the continent, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) had convened a ministerial meeting last week, which brought together African health ministers to discuss on containing a potential COVID-19 outbreak in Africa.

During the African health ministers meeting, African countries had endorsed a continent-wide strategy to be implemented by the Africa Task Force on Coronavirus (AFTCOR), a joint partnership between Africa CDC and the AU member states.

Amid the greater need to reinforce political advocacy on COVID19 around the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also recently named six global envoys, three of whom are from Africa, including John Nkengasong Director of Africa CDC, Samba Sow Director-General of the Centre for Vaccine Development in Mali, as well as Maha El Rabbat former Health Minister of Egypt.

The AU also stressed that all Africa CDC staff members including their dependents “need and deserve to have real-time and evidence-based information to make informed decisions during this fast-evolving period of the epidemic”.  -Xinhua

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