W.H.O. warns of potential spike in Covid-19 infections in Africa in December

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Travellers queue to buy bus tickets while adhering to social distancing measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Namirembe Bus Park in Kampala, Uganda, on June 04, 2020, the first day of re-opening public transport. - The President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni announced to lift the suspension of public transport which has been suspended since March 22, 2020, but all borders still remain closed except for limited goods and authorised emergency flights. (Photo by Badru KATUMBA / AFP) (Photo by BADRU KATUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Health workers test people for possible coronavirus infection at a COVID-19 test station at a field hospital in Al Hammah Range in Gabes, Tunisia. (Photo by Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of a possible surge in Covid-19 infections in Africa during the holiday season in December.

W.H.O. Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti singled out the tradition of families traveling to their rural homes for family gatherings to celebrate the festive season as a likely avenue for a rise in transmission of the disease.

“We are now nearing the time of year when people travel to spend their holidays together. These end-of-year get togethers are a key part of our lives in African countries, but they can certainly increase the risk of #COVID-19 transmission,” Moeti said.

“Outbreaks spread socially, and we can stop them with safe social interactions. I ask everyone to be mindful of your individual risks and the risk of you loved ones, friends & neighbors,” she added.

The W.H.O. warning comes in the wake of one by the Africa CDC that the continent was recording an estimated 10,000 cases per day, stoking fears of a potential second wave of the pandemic as is being experienced in some parts of the world, like Europe.

Several African governments have been reopening their economies, borders and schools, and relaxing restrictions on movement and gatherings. However, there have been reports of citizens in countries violating the existing health protocols, as complacency sets, in leading to a rise in cases.

Authorities and health officials have urged people not to flout the regulations in place so as to avert a similar episode such as the ones happening in Europe or the United States.

As a means of encouraging the continent’s youth to adhere to health protocols, Moeti announced the W.H.O. had launched a campaign dubbed “Mask Up, Not Down”, which aims to reach over 40 million young people in Africa on social media by the end of the year.

Moeti added that the global health agency was currently working with African countries on preparedness to roll out the candidate vaccines whose initial data indicated high levels of efficacy.

The latest figures from the Africa CDC revealed that a total of 2,013,388 cases were reported across the continent with the death toll related to the pandemic standing at 48,408 as of Thursday morning.

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