World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus raised concern over the novel Coronavirus pandemic in Africa saying that the continent is seeing clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries. Dr. Tedros also said that the body sees a slowing in the outbreak in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, like Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
"I want to take a moment to highlight Africa, where we are seeing the spread of the coronavirus to rural areas. We are now seeing clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries. We anticipate severe hardship for already overstretched health systems, particularly in rural areas, which normally lack the resources of those in cities," Tedros said.
He stressed on the need for countries to quickly develop their local public health infrastructure. He also called on the G20 countries to expedite their support for Africa.
The WHO chief informed that globally, nearly 15 lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported along with more than 92,000 deaths.
"In the past week, we’ve seen a welcome slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, like Spain, Italy, Germany and France. On a personal note, I was pleased to see my friend (British PM) Boris Johnson is no longer in intensive care. I wish him the best – as I wish the best for everyone who is facing what he faced."
Tedros, however, warned that lifting restrictions on people's movements too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. "The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly," he said. The Ethiopian microbiologist further said that WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.
The WHO chief raised concern on the large numbers of infections reported among health workers. He said in some countries there are reports of more than 10 percent of health workers being infected. Evidence shows that when health workers wear personal protective equipment the right way, infections can be prevented, Tedros said.
He said that the WHO and other UN-affiliated bodies will need to ship at least 100 million medical masks and gloves every month, along with 25 million N95 respirators, gowns and face-shields, up to 2.5 million diagnostic tests and large quantities of oxygen concentrators and other equipment for clinical care.
"To move these supplies around the world, the World Food Programme will deploy eight 747 aircraft, eight medium-sized cargo aircraft, and several smaller passenger planes to move humanitarian workers, technical staff, trainers and other personnel," Tedros added.