African ministers of health met on Saturday at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to discuss a continental strategy for preparedness and response to COVID-19 outbreak.

The meeting of health ministers of AU member states is expected to discuss and agree on a continental strategy to better prepare and respond to any new cases of the virus on the continent.

The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) of AU last week told a press conference that enhanced efforts are underway to prepare for any possible outbreak of COVID-19.

As one of the major steps, AU has established continental taskforce on COVID-19 to enable Africa to be prepared for and capable of responding to the disease if any outbreak occurs.

Officially opening the meeting, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, said his commission has been taking various measures and engaging member states to learn and assess their preparedness for the outbreak.

Reiterating the good partnership forged between Africa and China, the Chairperson has reaffirmed AU’s solidarity and support to China in this trial situation.

“We have set up a taskforce in Africa to coordinate the preparation through the continent. This taskforce is led by representatives of member states in five priority areas; surveillance, infection prevention and control in the health establishments clinical management of people affected by this disease COVID-19; communication on the crisis, commitment as well diagnosis and the subtype of laboratory,” he has stated.

Stating that China has always supported Africa in time of epidemic outbreak, the Chairperson commend such moves of China to support African countries in time of difficulty.

“In the face of this terrible trial which affects China… The 36th ordinary session of the Executive Council of the African Union has supported the efforts of the People’s Republic of China through vote of support; and I personally in my opening statement at the summit expressed my feeling of solidarity with the Chinese people… The Council also thanked the Chinese government for its support to Africa in the fight against all sorts of epidemic on the continent,” he said.

The AU health ministers meeting also shares knowledge and information about experimental drugs, vaccines and clinical trials currently being undertaken for the control of the coronavirus disease.

The ministers are expected to discuss and agree on a common approach to receiving African students and citizens seeking to return from China.

In his video address to the meeting, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, welcomed the decline in new cases in China.

“The data from China continue to show a decline in new cases; this is welcome news; but it must be interpreted very cautiously; it is far too early to make predictions about this outbreak,” the WHO director-general has noted.

“What has been reported from South Korea and Italy yesterday is also a matter of concern and how the virus is now spreading to other parts of the world. But, in addition to that as I said earlier in my press conference how the window of opportunity is also narrowing. So, this meeting, I hope, will help us as a continent to come together to be more aggressive in attacking the virus,” he said.

According to Africa CDC, efforts are well underway to enhance the diagnostic capacity of AU member states, and more than 16 countries now have the capacity to test (the novel coronavirus). And by the 28th of this month, another 20 labs will have the capacity to test, which indicates scaling up of very rapidly across the continent in terms of diagnostics.

The Africa CDC arranges daily emergency operation center meetings with AU member states as well as video conferences with representatives of national public health institutes, and produces and circulates a weekly update on the COVID-19 outbreak. Enditem



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