Africa to have coronavirus testing capacity within weeks: WHO

0
230
World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti speaks during a news briefing in Nairobi, Kenya March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti speaks during a news briefing in Nairobi, Kenya March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

All 47 members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Region are expected to have diagnostic capacity to test for the coronavirus soon, the WHO said on Monday.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said that the response by African countries to the outbreak was rapidly evolving and improving but that there were some areas that needed more effort than others.

“In some countries they have had to buy equipment, they have had to procure kits, train the laboratory technicians and we expect that in the next couple of weeks we should have all the countries able to diagnose this (coronavirus). This is extremely important because the sooner the diagnosis is made then the sooner the measures can be put in place to contain the further spread of the outbreak,” Moeti said.

Moeti made the announcement following a meeting to mobilise support from regional partners for member states in their preparedness and response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The meeting was geared towards coming up with a coordinated plan and resolving which country will be responsible for leading and contributing to various aspects of the response.

Moeti said that the number of countries in the African region that could test for the virus so far were 33 compared to an initial number of two at the beginning of the outbreak. These laboratories were built upon a network that had been established to deal with previous flu-like virus outbreaks.

Moeti also stressed that the move by some African countries to evacuate their citizens from China was an individual decision which needed meticulous planning such that it will not be an occasion for the infection to spread.

“What is important is for a country to have the capacity to then manage this process of repatriation not when they arrive home, well before they arrive home; when it is being planned, what is the risk among the group during the transportation and having put in place all the provisions when they arrive back in their countries to ensure that they do not get out into the community immediately,” she said.

Moeti added that the WHO will revise the risk categorisation of countries given that dynamics of the outbreak had changed since the first couple of cases in Africa came from Europe. The previous categorisation had countries listed according to their direct links with China or a high volume of travel to China.

Leave a Reply