Daily US Times: From shutting down schools to prohibiting mass gatherings and imposing travel bans- governments across Africa are increasingly adopting sweeping measures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
The situation in Africa is still relatively better than other continents, but the number of cases is running high.
After weeks of relatively few reported cases, the rise in the number of infections registered in recent days across the continent worry `many and emergency steps come as a result of this.
As of 19 March, the African continent has reported 17 deaths and confirmed more than 600 cases, while 40 people have been recovered.
The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is an Ethiopian citizen, said n Wednesday that the number of cases in the continent was likely higher and urged African countries to “wake up” to the increasing threat.
“The best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” he said.
His warnings came after Africa’s most populous country Nigeria entry to arrivals from 13 badly-hit countries.
Some other African countries have taken similar steps – especially in relation to travel from the current epicenter of pandemic Europe – and enforced mandatory quarantine of passengers from affected regions.
‘What about those who can’t access water?’
The virus first erupted in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and the spread across the globe in an alarming way, which led the WHO earlier this month to declare the outbreak a pandemic.
The rapid and wide rise in the number of cases forced countries around the world to place citizens under lockdown, close borders and promote social distancing measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Heeding the WHO’s calls, the presidents of Rwanda and Senegal Paul Kagame and Macky Sall, have taken part in the agency’s #SafeHands social media campaign to show proper hand-washing practices.
Other African leaders including Liberian President George Weah and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, have urged their citizens to avoid handshakes and use alternative greetings.
From the earlier of the outbreak, WHO had been warning that the risk that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, could spread to countries with weaker health systems, including in sub-Saharan Africa, where poor sanitation facilities, the proliferation of informal economy and urban crowding pose additional challenges in the efforts to combat the highly infectious disease.
But the common situation in Africa is lack of water, which is vital to wash hands regularly.
Addressing the challenge, a resident of Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi, said “Many people are cramped together in small spaces,” he said.
“A lack of water is the norm, so washing hands is another issue. Also, people here live hand-to-mouth, they have to go to work regardless of what symptoms they are showing.”
Schools shut, gatherings banned
Alongside the recently imposed travel bans, countries such as Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania South Africa, Kenya, and Zambia are among those to have closed educational facilities.
Most countries, including Ghana Botswana and Ethiopia, have placed a ban on sporting events. Other nations such as Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana have also banned gatherings at places of worship.
The Kenyan government has urged employers to facilitate work from home for their staff and called on people to make cashless transactions. Kenya has reported seven cases so far.
Countries are giving their efforts to keep control of the situation, Africa.