Ramaphosa praises continent's response to Covid-19 on Africa Day

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised African countries in their fight against the novel Covid-19.

Ramaphosa, who is also chairperson of the African Union, used his weekly Monday newsletter to commend the work of the continent in dealing with the virus on Africa Day.

He attributed the ability of the continent to fight the virus to previous experiences in dealing with outbreaks such as Ebola, malaria, HIV, TB and others. He said that the mass screening, testing and contact tracing in communities had proven to be successful and that those are the lessons learnt in dealing with HIV and TB. “Our understanding of communicable diseases and how to manage them has put us in good stead when it comes to coronavirus,” Ramaphosa said.   “African governments have been swift and proactive in implementing measures to flatten the coronavirus curve.”

The first case of coronavirus in Africa was registered in Egypt on February 14 and since then all 54 countries have recorded cases, with the last being Lesotho.

The worldwide expectation was that Africa would be the most hit in terms of recorded cases and deaths given its vulnerability in many countries  but this has not proven to be the case. Scientists across the world have questioned how this was managed.

There are now more than 100,000 cases and 3,354 deaths on the African continent, with South Africa being the most affected with 22,583 cases.

“As countries around the world battle to turn the tide against the pandemic, Africa has taken firm control of its destiny, by developing a clear strategy and raising financial resources from its member states.   The African response to the coronavirus pandemic has received widespread praise. Despite the multitude of resource challenges they face, African countries have come together in remarkable ways, united by a common purpose,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said that although there have been shortcomings in how the continent was fighting the virus with issues of shortage of personal protective equipment, there have been stories of excellence. “One such example is the work of the African Centres for Disease Control (ACDC) and Prevention, a world-class institution with capabilities for disease surveillance and intelligence and health emergency preparedness and response.  

“African countries have scaled up their respective capacities for screening, testing and isolating. In April, the AU and the ACDC launched the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing to strengthen testing capacity in vulnerable countries, with the aim of testing 10-million people over the next six months. Through this partnership, warehousing and distribution hubs are being set up across the continent to distribute medical supplies. The aim is to pool the procurement of diagnostics and other medical commodities.”

Ramaphosa said that at least 25 countries had registered clinical trials for possible Covid-19 treatments and that some of these successes show that although the continent may still rely on support from the international community, “African countries are holding their own”.

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