W.H.O. warns risk of COVID-19 transmission in Africa still high

A medical worker checks the temperature of a local resident during a regional health screening program in Rustenburg, South Africa on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. South Africa is mid-way through a three-week national lockdown and has sealed off its borders in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 1,749 people so far and claimed the lives of 13. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) on Thursday warned that Africa was not yet in the clear regarding the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of spreading the virus remained very real.

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker checks the temperature of a local resident during a regional health screening program in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“In Africa, the risk of high transmission, or amplification of transmission, is still high because of fatigue in the general population and relaxing of observing the public health interventions,” Dr. Nsenga Ngoy, the Emergency Response Programme Manager at W.H.O. Regional Office for Africa, said.

Some African countries, like South Africa and Uganda, have been experiencing increases in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. Authorities in such countries have blamed the rise in cases on complacency and blatant violation of existing health protocols.

Moreover, despite the threat of a second wave of the pandemic, governments have generally relaxed restrictions designed to contain the spread of the virus.

However, some countries like Kenya and South Africa responded to the rise in cases by announcing further restrictions to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The W.H.O. also urged authorities to strengthen public health measures to avoid a spike in infections, particularly ahead of the festive season during which people are expected to travel and congregate in large numbers.

“Trying to revive economies and livelihoods devastated by the pandemic while striving to limit the spread of COVID-19 is a very tough balancing act,” Ngoy said during an online press briefing on COVID-19 in Africa.

“But we cannot emphasize enough how important it is not to let our guard down. The likelihood of an increase in cases in the coming weeks can be averted by doubling down our efforts.”

As of December 17, Africa has reported more than 2.42 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 57,000 cases, according to the W.H.O.