Coronavirus: Africa urged to avoid prevention fatigue as countries begin to ease lockdowns

Coronavirus: Africa urged to avoid prevention fatigue as countries begin to ease lockdowns

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, August 22, 2020/ — The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AfricaCDC has urged the continent to avoid coronavirus “prevention fatigue”.

At a media conference on Thursday 20th August, Director of the AfricaCDC, Dr John Nkengasong noted “a slight decrease” in infection rates on the continent, and said this “gives some signs of hope that we are beginning to bend the curve slowly”.

He however cautioned the continent to maintain and increase the use of masks, social distancing, and to ramp up testing, even as countries begin to ease lockdown measures. “We do not want the population to show prevention fatigue”, he said, adding that “We are dealing with a delicate virus that can easily flare up again very quickly, as has been witnessed in other parts of the world.

In the past week, Africa reported an average of 10344 new cases per day, compared to 11494 the week before and 14447 the previous week.

The AfricaCDC, an agency of the African Union, also announced that Africa is working towards “trusted testing” for COVID19 to protect travel and borders. This will entail mutual recognition of certified COVID19 testing among all member states, to allow for smooth movement across the continent.

Dr Nkengasong said the Partnership for Increased COVID19 Testing (PACT) will be used to enhance surveillance in different economic sectors. The PACT initiative, rolled out in June when the continent had conducted under 400 000 tests, had a target of 10 million tests across the continent. A few months later, 10 256 000 tests have been conducted, the majority of them in ten countries i.e. South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda and Mauritius. A new target of 20 million tests has now been set for the period from now till the beginning of November, to capitalise on the gains recorded so far.

These measures will take place under the “Africa Against COVID19: Saving Lives, Saving Economies and Saving Livelihoods” campaign that was launched at the same press conference by the African Union’s Commissioner for Social Affairs Mrs Amira ElFadil, together with the Union’s Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy Dr Amani Abou Zeid.

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