WHO Reacts After Africa Makes Remarkable Improvement In COVID-19 Cases
Africa has continued to record fewer cases of COVID-19, Wellness Health reports.
This has caused the entire continent to resume social and corporate activities.
Reacting to this, the World Health Organisation has advised Africans to thread with caution.
The WHO regional office in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo made this call.
It acknowledged the need to reopen economic and social lives but urged stakeholders to consider the risk.
The WHO Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, noted the importance of contact tracing.
Dr Moeti urged Africans not to downplay the impact of this in reducing the spread and mortality of COVID-19.
He stated that the pandemic made countries understand the importance of prioritised contact tracing. Thereby, monitoring contacts with a high risk of infection.
Cause Of Reduced COVID-19 Cases
The UN Regional Director raised an alarm over contact tracing. He lamented that at least 22 African countries have stopped contact tracing.
” Based on analysis of open-source data;
* WHO finds that by March 15, 2022, 13 countries were conducting comprehensive surveillance. While 19 countries were carrying out prioritized contact tracing. 22 African countries were no longer carrying out any kind of contact tracing.
“This, along with robust testing, is the backbone of any pandemic response. Without this critical information, it is difficult to track the spread of the virus and identify new COVID-19 hotspots that may be caused by known or emerging variants.”
The UN health organisation also lamented on reduced testing. It explained that several countries on the continent failed to meet their weekly target.
It said the weekly benchmark is 10 persons per 10,000 people.
“In the first quarter of 2022, only 27 per cent of countries were achieving this weekly target. Indicating a concerning decrease in testing rates compared with 2021, when 40 per cent of countries reached the benchmark. Aside from polymerase chain reaction testing and antigen rapid diagnostic tests. WHO is also recommending self-testing using antigen-detection rapid tests to expand access to diagnostics and has published guidelines.
“While COVID-19 cases have declined across the continent since the peak of the Omicron-driven fourth wave in early January 2022, vaccination coverage remains far behind the rest of the world. About 201 million people or 15.6 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated compared with the global average of 57 per cent.
“However, with cases low and pressure mounting to open up the economy, countries are not only cutting back on surveillance but a raft of other measures. A WHO survey conducted in March 2022 found that seven out of 21 countries reporting no longer required quarantine for people exposed to the virus. One country did not require isolation of confirmed cases, while four required isolation for only symptomatic cases.
“Twenty-two countries ban mass gatherings down from 41, a year ago, according to data received on the WHO portal tracking COVID-19 health measures implemented by countries. However, in most countries, the requirement to wear a mask remains in place. 43 countries maintain mask-wearing, although four have eased the measure, with masks mandatory only on public transport or in closed spaces.”
Is COVID-19 Pandemic Over?
Moeti reiterated that the pandemic is not yet over. He advised that preventive measures be eased cautiously.
“WHO has provided clear guidance to countries on how to implement and adjust public health and social measures in different situations and contexts as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
“These guidelines recommend that countries take a comprehensive approach that weighs the risks and anticipated benefits when determining whether to relax measures.
“Countries should take into consideration the capacity of health systems, the immunity of the population to COVID-19, and the countries’ socio-economic priorities.
“If measures are relaxed, there should be a system in place for them to be quickly reinstated in the event of a deterioration of the situation.
“Additionally, as countries lift or adjust the public health measures, it is critical to ensure that systems are in place to; 1. closely monitor the infection trends. 2. Allow timely detection and treatment as well as swiftly respond to the emergence of new variants of concern.
“Countries should also scale up vaccinations to increase the number of people protected from the adverse effects of the virus.”
Source: PUNCH Health Wise