Africa CDC warns against prevention fatigue amid easing lockdowns

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The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has urged the continent to avoid coronavirus “prevention fatigue.”

The urgent call was made by John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, who noted “a slight decrease” in COVID-19 infection rates on the continent, and said this “gives some signs of hope that we are beginning to bend the curve slowly,” an AU statement issued on Saturday quoted Nkengasong as saying.

The Africa CDC Director, however, cautioned the continent “to maintain and increase the use of masks, social distancing, and to ramp up testing, even as countries begin to ease lockdown measures.”

“We do not want the population to show prevention fatigue,” Nkengasong said, adding that “we are dealing with a delicate virus that can easily flare up again very quickly, as has been witnessed in other parts of the world.”

In the past week, Africa reported an average of 10,344 new cases per day, compared to 11,494 the week before and 14,447 the previous week, according to figures from the Africa CDC.

The Africa CDC, specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union (AU), also announced that Africa is working towards “trusted testing” for COVID-19 to protect travel and borders. This will entail mutual recognition of certified COVID-19 testing among all member states, to allow for smooth movement across the continent.

Nkengasong said the Partnership for Increased COVID19 Testing (PACT) “will be used to enhance surveillance in different economic sectors.”

The continental PACT initiative, which was rolled out in June when the continent had conducted under 400,000 tests, had a target of 10 million tests across the continent.

A few months later, 10,256,000 tests have been conducted, the majority of them in ten countries that are South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda and Mauritius.

The Africa CDC also disclosed a new target of 20 million tests has now been set for the period from now until the beginning of November, to capitalize on the gains recorded so far.

On Thursday, the AU Commission had launched a flagship campaign to intensify the continental fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic towards protecting African economies and livelihoods amid the easing of COVID-19-inflicted lockdowns.
The newly launched continental initiative, dubbed “Africa Against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies, and Livelihoods Campaign,” mainly envisaged protecting borders and travelers, economies and livelihoods, as countries ease lockdown and resume economic activities, the AU announced on Thursday.

As of Saturday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent reached 1,169,670 as the death toll from the pandemic climbed to 27,348, while some 891,713 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far, according to the Africa CDC.

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