A week ago the Coronavirus debuted in Africa. Egypt then detected the first case and alarms rang throughout the continent. A study now highlights the weaknesses of countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya and anticipates that, with precarious health systems and outdated contingency plans, they will need help locating and managing the epidemic's expansion.
Situation in which the World Health Organization (WHO) has insisted on the continuous press conferences given by its CEO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We are partnering with the CDC in Africa to coordinate our efforts to prepare their countries for the possible arrival of the virus. That's where we believe the virus could be a serious danger. That is why we are focusing on places where health systems are weakest, ”Ghebreyesus said yesterday.
"African countries have recently strengthened their preparedness to handle cases imported from Covid-19 , including airport surveillance, border temperature control, recommendations to avoid travel to China and the improvement of health information provided to professionals in the sector and the general public. However, some countries are still poorly equipped, "says Vittoria Colizza, a researcher at the French university of La Soborna and author of the report published in the British medical journal The Lancet .
The study highlights the paradox that has revealed the virus that emerged in China: although Egypt, Algeria and South Africa are the countries that are most at risk of harboring new cases of the coronavirus, they are also the ones with the best prepared health systems and less vulnerable to a crisis like the current one, which since December has claimed the lives of 2,118 people in the Asian country.
On the other hand, it is the nations with a moderate risk such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Win and Kenya that are most exposed to the spread of the virus and those that - the report estimates - will need assistance to circumvent Covid -19. The research develops its conclusions from the preparation of each country -identified in the capacity of its health model-; Vulnerability - formed by the variables of demographic, environmental, socioeconomic and political conditions that may affect the capacity to respond; and the probability of importing Covid-19 cases from China.
Recommendations to adopt
One of the most direct factors of the potential spread in Africa, which already dealt with Ebola, is the growing connections established between the Asian giant and the African countries. The baptized as a new Silk route has launched Chinese state enterprises to conquer the planet, with infrastructure construction projects, hotels or residential neighborhoods in Africa and the Middle East. Some ties that research also takes into consideration. China is already the main trading partner in Africa "with large volumes of travel between both locations."
"While almost three-fourths of all African countries have a contingency plan for the flu pandemic, most are outdated and considered inadequate to face a global pandemic," the text notes. "Despite WHO's efforts to improve diagnostic capacity, some countries do not have the resources to detect the virus quickly, which means that tests would have to be done in other countries," he adds.
The document recommends precisely increasing resources, vigilance and responsiveness . Among others, he suggests "improving the rapid identification of suspicious cases, the transfer of the patient and his isolation, his rapid diagnosis and the follow-up to his potential contacts".
"It is essential to train, equip and strengthen the diagnostic capabilities of hospital laboratories close to infectious diseases and emergency units to reduce the time to deliver results, manage confirmed cases and contacts more quickly and preserve strict infection control measures "he details. "These measures require technical and operational experience as well as resources, something that is based on health systems," he says.
It is essential to train, equip and strengthen the diagnostic capabilities of hospital laboratories close to infectious diseasesThe Lancet
The document emphasizes, however, that the results of the investigation "need to be interpreted in context." " The average risk of importing Covid-19 cases to Africa is lower than to Europe (1% versus 11%) but the response and reaction capacity is more limited in Africa."
Egypt, where Covid-19 first appeared in Africa, said Wednesday that the foreigner who was allegedly detected the virus last week has tested negative in the six tests conducted during the first 48 hours of quarantine. Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed acknowledged in television statements that it is a Chinese citizen who had landed in the country.
"The patient is in good health and shows no symptoms," the authorities said in a statement. Last Monday the quarantine concluded the 302 Egyptian nationals who were evacuated from Wuhan , epicenter of the virus. All of them left the sanitary facilities in which they were isolated, on the shores of the Mediterranean.
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