Published Thursday , on 27 February 2020, 23:19:00 by Christophe Hitayezu

In a virtual Press Conference on Thursday, 27th February 2020, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedross Adhanom Ghebreyesus, addresses the media on major updates of Coronavirus around the World as well as in Africa. He said WHO wants Africa continent to respond to this outbreak in a coordinated fashion, and this has been discussed on in the meeting with African ministries last Friday.

From that meeting, WHO understood the gaps and pledged a continued support to address them.

Dr. Tedross Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General addressing the Press on Thursday. Credit: WHO/Christopher Black

He said most of the countries in Africa have weaker health systems, therefore, WHO has decided to invest as much as possible to countries especially in Sub-Sahara Africa so that they can get ready, and they started by improving diagnosis capability and that has improved significantly.

"More than 40 countries have capability in-country to test for Coronavirus. But in addition to that we want the African Continent to respond to this outbreak in a coordinated fashion. This is why last Friday, we had a meeting organised by the African Union, Africa CDC (Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO, meeting of the ministers of the whole continent, to agree on continent wide response or preparedness and national level preparedness and response. That was a very productive meeting and I had opportunity to attend, and from that meeting, we were able to understand the gaps they have and we will continue to support so that preparedness is better and something can hopefully address the gaps they have," Dr. Tedross responded to NONAHA.

He also said the continent’s health professionals have been trained and out of 8000 trained worldwide, most of them are from Africa.

Michael J. Ryan, the Executive Director for WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said Africa used to deal with more than one epidemics like cholera, Ebola, ..., so that the continent has a great resistance and coping capacity. He added that WHO will continue to provide resources and training support to the continent. And currently the Organisation’s Head of Clinical Interventions is in Africa presiding training for intensive care for respiratory diseases.

Michael J. Ryan, the Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Credit: WHO/Christopher Black

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical Lead at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, emphasized on capacity building by experience sharing. She said WHO brings health workers together for teleconferences to share experiences. "Bring them to virtual means and training is something that is being done and has been done since the beginning of this epidemic and will continue to happen, so as we learn more, as they learn more, we are sharing experience with each other," she said.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme responding. Credit: WHO/Christopher Black

Meanwhile, as of Thursday 27th February 2020, China has reported a total of 78,630 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, including 2747 deaths. Outside China, there are now 3474 cases in 44 countries, and 54 deaths. Apart from China, 46 countries have confirmed at least one case worldwide.

Coronavirus found in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time

This evening, the third case on African continent after Egypt and Algeria has been found in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria. The Nigeria’s Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, said the first case in the region was an Italian citizen who worked in Nigeria and had returned from Italy to Lagos on 25 February, and the patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

Basic protective measures against COVID-19 (By WHO)

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.