Africa CDC moves to effectively prevent novel coronavirus across Africa

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Coronavirus
Coronavirus

Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), a specialized agency of the African Union (AU), has stressed that it is undertaking healthcare capacity building initiatives as part of the continental novel coronavirus preparedness efforts.

The Africa CDC trained 16 African laboratories, comprising Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia from February 6 to 8 in Senegal, in which each of the trainees have received a kit that can run 100 tests for COVID-19, the Africa CDC disclosed in its periodic update issued late Wednesday concerning the state of novel coronavirus in the African continent. The AU Commission’s specialized healthcare agency also disclosed that the second round training for 19 additional African laboratories is slated to be held from February 20 to 22 in South Africa in partnership with the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases. “Africa CDC is coordinating with partners to establish sequencing capacity in six African reference laboratories, as well as external quality assessment and proficiency testing for all laboratories with COVID-19 testing capacity,” the report read.

The Africa CDC, which activated its Emergency Operations Center and its Incident Management System (IMS) for the COVID-19 outbreak on January 27, had also recently developed the second Africa CDC Incident Action Plan (IAP) for COVID-19 covering a one-month period from February 13 to March 12. It also disclosed that activities are underway to train and deploy epidemiologists at headquarters and within the Regional Collaborating Centers for daily event tracking, risk analysis, and generation of critical information to inform member states response and control efforts. Noting that the Africa CDC has been working with Member States to build Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) capacities in healthcare facilities and with the airline sector to support screening of travelers, it also stressed that the first IPC training, targeting 15 member states, will takes place from February 20 to 21 in Abuja, Nigeria. It also indicated that it is holding weekly updates with national public health institutes in member states and has formed working groups for high priority areas of coronavirus control that include surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, infection prevention and control, clinical care, as well as risk communication.

The Africa CDC, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), had also recently provided training of trainers for participants coming from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Zambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia to enhance surveillance at points of entry for COVID-19. It also disclosed that it will collaborate with the WHO to provide the second round of training of trainers from this week.

Reiterating its resolve to provide updated and relevant information to member states as the outbreak evolves, the Africa CDC also stressed that “all AU member countries should enhance their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns of SARI or pneumonia cases. Examples of enhanced surveillance include.” It also called on all member states to activate their Emergency Operations Centers and rapid response teams for COVID-19, as well as exercise their emergency response systems for readiness. The Africa CDC also advised all AU member states to use the WHO’s existing specimen referral network for influenza to ship their specimens to laboratories with capacity to test for COVID-19.

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