- WHO calls on Nigeria, other African countries to ramp up preparation for virus
By Martins Ifijeh
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Algeria as the second African country to be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now killed 2, 715 persons and infected over 78, 064 across 47 countries.
This is even as the WHO African region has called on Nigeria and other African countries to ramp up their preparedness activities for the virus, as the window of opportunity available to African countries for preparation was closing.
In a statement made available to THISDAY Wednesday, the Regional Director, WHO Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said Algeria’s Ministry of Health had alerted the global health body of a 61 year old Italian who arrived the country February 17 from Italy, and tested positive to the virus.
Africa’s first COVID-19 case was reported earlier this month in Egypt, with the patient said to be recovering from the infection.
Algeria is one of the 47 countries in the WHO African region.
Moeti said: “The window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing. All countries must ramp up their preparedness activities.”
“WHO is preparing to deploy a team of experts to Algeria to support health authorities.”
Algeria is one of 13 countries which WHO has identified as a top priority for preparedness measures due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China. Nigeria was named on same list.
Countries so far affected are Bahrain, Israel, Italy, Egypt, Canada, United States, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, France, Afghanistan, Israel, Kuwait, UAE, Vietnam, United Kingdom, India, Russia, Nepal, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Croatia, Finland, Iraq, Nepal, Oman, Philippine, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Algeria, China, among others.
Meanwhile, the WHO has said governments and pharmaceutical giants must urgently begin expensive and risky work developing vaccines against COVID-19.
The Emergency Director, WHO, Michael Ryan said: “Big decisions need to be taken as vaccines will require huge investment and the state sector will have to take some of the risk with the private sector.
“It requires hundreds of millions of dollars, and it may be necessary to develop several potential vaccines “without any certainty that one of them will work,” he said.
Ryan also said it had “become very important” to conclusively identify the source of the outbreak in order to prevent another. A single transmission chain has been identified but there could be others.