Work being done to defeat the coronavirus evidence of a continent determined to leverage its strengths and capabilities to resolve its own challenges, says SA president
AFRICAN governments have been swift and proactive in implementing measures to flatten the Covid-19 infection curve, drawing on their experiences in managing outbreaks of malaria, cholera, HIV, TB and haemorrhagic viruses like Ebola and Lassa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
In a weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said the continent had faced severe shortcomings and constraints, such as the shortage of personal protective equipment, testing kits and ventilators, but there had also been stories of excellence and intercontinental collaboration in grappling with the pandemic.
His newsletter coincided with Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963. Ramaphosa is current chairperson of the OAU’s successor the African Union, a position that lasts for a year.
“Our understanding of communicable diseases and how to manage them has put us in good stead when it comes to (the) coronavirus,” the president wrote in the column.
“By early May, 43 African countries had full border closures, 53 had closed institutions of learning, 54 had limited public gatherings, 26 had instituted the compulsory use of face masks, 32 had instituted night-time curfews and 18 had imposed nationwide lockdowns.”
He said the work being done to defeat the coronavirus was evidence of a continent determined to leverage its strengths and capabilities to resolve its own challenges, despite the multitude of resource challenges faced by most countries.
One such example was the African Centres for Disease Control, which Ramaphosa called “a world-class institution with capabilities for disease surveillance and intelligence and health emergency preparedness and response”.
The deployment of community health workers to do screening, testing, contact tracing and case management was happening in many countries, drawing on experiences with HIV and TB.
African nations had also joined the race to produce test kits, with Senegal in an advanced stage of developing a low-cost testing kit.
The work being done to defeat the coronavirus was evidence, Ramaphosa said, of a continent determined to leverage its strengths and capabilities to resolve its own challenges. “Though it is clear we will continue to rely on the support of the international community and international financial institutions to bolster the existing continental effort and build economic resilience, African countries are holding their own,” he said.
Despite staging arguably one of the continent’s most efficient responses to the pandemic, South Africa has still recorded the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases at 22 583, with 429 people dying from the virus while 11 100 have recovered.
Egypt is second in Africa with 17 265 cases to date, out of which 764 lives have been lost while 4 807 people have recovered. Lesotho, at the other end of the African list, has only recorded two cases of Covid-19 so far.
– African News Agency (ANA)