JOHANNESBURG – Africa is better equipped to deal with a potential second wave of Covid-19, leveraging on measures adopted in tackling the pandemic’s initial strike, experts have told an economic conference.
A statement dated Thursday and posted on the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) website said much had been done to mitigate the pandemic’s adverse effects, including increasing laboratory testing capacity, beefing up primary healthcare defence mechanisms and leveraging technology to reduce human contact.
“The continent is much more prepared to deal with the second wave than we were 11 months ago,” the statement quoted the director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Dr John Nkengasong as saying during a session at the 2020 Africa Economic Conference.
About 2.3 million people in Africa have to date contracted the coronavirus which has spread globally since being first reported in China a year ago. Of these, around 54 500 have died from the disease.
While noting that Africa lagged behind other regions in developing Covid-19 vaccines, which some developed countries have begun administering to their citizens, the experts at the conference lauded the continent’s governments for speedily adopting diagnostic measures against the outbreak.
On Tuesday, a 90 year old woman in Britain became the first person in the world, outside a trial, to receive a Covid-19 vaccine developed by American multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
The experts at the African economic conference noted that within a year, at least six countries – Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Morocco – had developed diagnostics for the disease.
The president of the West African Health Federation, Clare Omatseye, emphasised the need for a strategic partnership between the public and private sectors to deal with the pandemic effectively.
One such area of collaboration, she told the conference, was in bringing about behavioural change, especially around misconceptions about the disease.
Public-private partnerships could also help increase testing, data collection and capacity building, Omatseye added, urging governments to create an enabling environment to allow the private sector to manufacture protective equipment.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa