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WHO AFRO Outbreaks and Other Emergencies Week 19: 4-10 May 2020 Data as reported by: 17:00; 10 May 2020

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This Weekly Bulletin focuses on public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region.

The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 107 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 Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo Measles in Central African Republic 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 COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly in Africa, with the disease trend increasing exponentially in the past two weeks. In balancing the goal of COVID-19 control and ensuring livelihoods of the population, several countries are now looking at easing restrictions. Countries are encouraged to adjust these measures cautiously and to be informed by data. Meanwhile, emphasis should be placed on instituting effective key public health measures in every community and at every stage of the response. The critical interventions include active case finding, testing, isolation of cases, providing care, and tracing and quarantining contacts. These measures need to be implemented even in communities that have not reported cases. There is also a need to ensure continuity of essential services, as well as empowering the community to practice social distancing, hand washing and good cough etiquette.

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo has locally re-emerged in Beni Health Zone, with a total of seven new cases since the 10 April 2020, four of whom have died, two in the community and two in treatment centres. Beni remains the only affected zone, the remaining 28 previously affected health zones having reported no new confirmed cases in the past 42 days. Contact follow-up is ongoing in Beni, with vaccination of a further 1 267 people, along with enhanced infection prevention and control activities and community sensitization and engagement.

The ongoing measles outbreak in Central African Republic is on a declining trend as a result of the recent reactive vaccination campaigns in the 10 most affected regions in six health districts, with a second phase scheduled for the end of May 2010. However, the measles response has been disrupted by repurposing key staff to COVID-19 surveillance, creating a gap in measles surveillance information. This operational issue needs to be addressed immediately to avoid reversing the gains already achieved to date.