Health ministers drawn from the sub-Saharan African region on Wednesday urged enhanced vigilance to curb transmission of COVID-19 that has been on the upsurge in the continent.
The ministers said that robust surveillance combined with political goodwill, research and information sharing is key to minimize the impact of the virus on the continent’s healthcare systems.
“We all need to continue to be vigilant in our testing, isolation and treatment, and our strong communication on the non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Ethiopia’s minister for Health.
African health ministers early this week participated in the 17th virtual session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa to take stock of progress achieved in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Jacqueline Mikolo, minister of Health and Population, Republic of Congo and chairperson of the 17th Regional Committee reiterated commitment by governments to contain a second wave of coronavirus transmission.
“It is crucial for all of us to fight complacency in observing COVID-19 preventive measures by strengthening communication and epidemiological surveillance,” said Mikolo.
The African region has in the recent past recorded a steady increase in COVID-19 cases with WHO statistics indicating that 18 countries reported more than 20 percent spike in positive cases as of Nov. 22 when compared with the last seven days.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa said that enhanced vigilance was urgent amid risk of a surge in new infections during the holiday season.
“We need to prepare for a resurgence, including scaling-up precautions in risky situations such as festive and elections-related gatherings,” said Moeti.
She said that WHO has supported timely roll-out of COVID-19 containment measures in Africa including enhanced surveillance, monitoring and reporting of new cases.
Zweli Mkhize, South African minister for Health said that strengthening containment measures at community level is key to avert a surge in positive cases that could overwhelm health care systems in Africa.