Fears Mount over Containing COVID-19 as Cases Spillover Worldwide


ENA February 22/2020 The World Health Organization (WHO) today sent a warning of the threat that the increasing COVID-19 spread outside China sparks mounting fear in various continents with weak health systems.

“The increasing signs of transmission outside China show that the window of opportunity we have for containing this virus is narrowing,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom said in an urgent video conference held with African Health Officials in Addis Ababa.

Noting that “WHO has identified 13 priority African countries due to their link or volume of travel with China,” Tedros notified African health officials to urgently invest in COVID-19, mentioning Egypt’s first confirmed case in Africa.

The World Health Organization is worried over the pandemic, he said “the virus could spread to countries with weaker health systems such as African continent.”

“Although the total number of cases outside China remains relatively small,” he said, “We are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link such as travel history to China or contact with the confirmed cases.”

He pointed out that “we are especially concerned about the increasing cases in Iran where 18 cases and 4 deaths reported in the past two days.”

Reports from Italy and South Korea indicate the matter of concern and how the virus is now spreading to the rest of the world, as the window of opportunity is narrowing.

According to the director, “China has reported to WHO 75,569 cases, including 2,239 deaths,” Tedros stated. “Outside China there are 1200 cases in 26 countries, 8 deaths with one confirmed case in Egypt, Africa.”

“The data from China continues to show decline in new cases, this is encouraging news. But it must be interpreted very cautiously. It is quite too early to make predictions about this outbreak,” he noted.

The director urged all countries to invest in preparedness and response at national level and coordinate with relevant bodies to contain the spread of COVID-19.

African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat on the occasion said the commission is firmly ready to support preparedness and response efforts of AU member states for COVID-19.

He urged for drastic preventative and controlling strategy of member states for COVID-19 in the fragile and vulnerable continent.

The meeting helps anticipate trends of the epidemic, protect and strengthening preparedness and response of member states, he noted.

The epidemic could cause social, economic and security consequences in Africa unless preparedness and response measures are undertaken urgently, considering relatively fragile health systems, lack of resource and peoples’ mobility, he added.

The emergency meeting is co-organized by Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and WHO.