This Weekly Bulletin focuses on public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 76 events in the region. This week’s main articles cover key new and ongoing events, including:
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the WHO African Region (Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Togo)
Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lassa fever in Liberia
Measles in Mali
For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as recent events that have largely been controlled and thus closed.
Major issues and challenges include:
The global Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve rapidly, with the recent spread of the disease to Africa. During the reporting week, three additional countries in the WHO African Region (Cameroon, South Africa and Togo) confirmed COVID-19, bringing the number to six (the others are Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal). All the reported cases occurred in or are associated with persons with recent travel history from affected countries, with no established local transmission. Except for Algeria and South Africa that have clusters of confirmed cases, all the other countries have sporadic and isolated cases. The recent shift in COVID-19 hotspots from China to Europe highlights the increased propensity for rapid spread of the novel disease to the continent, evidenced by the geographic spread of COVID-19 seen in the last two weeks. Governments of the affected countries are strongly advised to promptly institute rigorous containment measures to rapidly interrupt any further spread and prevent the establishment of local transmission. National authorities and partners in the non-affected Member States need to move quickly to close in all the loopholes that are still existing in their readiness and response capabilities.
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo remains stable as it enters its nineteenth day with no reported confirmed cases. While this development is encouraging, the risk of losing this gain remains high as continued armed attacks on civilian populations has led to interruptions in outbreak response activities in recent days. With international attention and interest shifting to the COVID-19 outbreak, stakeholders must ensure that focus is kept on the EVD outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo to sustain the last push of outbreak response activities to the end.