More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of 19 March, compared with 147 cases one week ago. Although the region has seen a significant increase in confirmed cases recently, there are still fewer cases than in other parts of the world.
“The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.”
Twelve countries in the African region are now experiencing local transmission. It is crucial that governments prevent local transmission from evolving into a worst case scenario of widespread sustained community transmission. Such a scenario will present a major challenge to countries with weak health systems.
“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts,” said Dr Moeti.