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Guterres urges developed nations to emulate Africa’s COVID-19 response


The UN Secretary-General has urged developed countries to adopt strict measures, as done in Africa, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Antonio Guterres says Africa has proved the world otherwise after it was projected in March that the pandemic would decimate the continent.

Experts had earlier projected that famine and uncontrollable deaths-related to coronavirus could hit Africa.

They claimed with high levels of poverty, urban density, widespread infectious diseases, limited access to healthcare, and overcrowded informal settlements, the risk factors threaten to exacerbate the pandemic on the continent.

But there have been fewer deaths related to the coronavirus throughout Africa, and relatively low cases compared to the developed countries.

Many African countries followed the global trend of imposing shutdowns of businesses and human movements.

The same experts now believe the creation, by many African countries, of presidential COVID-19 task forces of public health and sectoral experts acted as an institutional innovation to guide the pandemic response. They say the central role of professionals in these task forces has elevated the emphasis on science and evidence-based planning.

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“I do believe I have a lot of admirations for what’s happening in Africa today,” Antonio Guterres declared.

Countries with the world’s most advanced health systems such as the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, among others are battling an unprecedented number of cases and deaths.

The U.S which is now the global epicentre of the coronavirus has recorded close to 100,000 deaths but also eased its lockdown restrictions.

“If we just think back the forecast that was made just one month ago, would indicate we should now have in Africa a pandemic spreading like bush fire everywhere with hundreds of thousands of people infected,” Guterres said.

According to the UNSG, Africa is managing its cases since most African governments took brave prevention measures to contain the spread of the virus.

He encouraged developed nations to borrow a leaf from African countries that took strict preventive measures such as total lockdowns to combat the pandemic.

“The truth is that largely because of very strong prevention measures by governments and societies. And from the being sometimes without even a case or with just one or two cases,” said Guterres.

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“Very strong measures of prevention were taken and this is a lesson that should be seen by the countries -namely in the developed world that acted later,” he suggested.

However, South Sudan is among countries whose coronavirus virus cases are fast rising.

This is mostly because, in April, the country eased restrictions that it had imposed to control the spread of the virus.

The government lifted restrictions such as; domestic and international travels, reopened markets, and bars.

World Health Organization has routinely called for a multifaceted and multisectoral approach to combatting and containing the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

“The Organization recognizes that providing ongoing support and a regular platform to African innovators can be a key facet of this,” it states.

Eight innovators from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Guinea and Kenya recently presented their pioneering solutions, all of which have already been implemented in their respective countries, with significant potential to be scaled up further across the region.

The innovations ranged from interactive public transport contact tracing apps and dynamic data analytics systems to rapid diagnostic testing kits, mobile testing booths and low-cost critical care beds.

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