The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday hailed declining COVID-19 positive cases in Africa but stressed the need to strengthen containment measures amid risk of a second wave in the continent.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional director for Africa, said the continent has escaped an implosion of infections and fatalities thanks to timely roll-out of mitigation measures coupled with favorable climate and youthful population.

“The downward trend we have seen in Africa over the past two months is undoubtedly a positive development and speaks to the robust and decisive public health measures taken by governments across the region,” Moeti said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

She said that border closures, suspension of in-person learning, adherence to public health protocols like hand washing and physical distancing cut off the transmission chain during the early stages of the pandemic in Africa.

Moeti said that a host of socio-ecological factors like a huge youthful population, low mobility alongside hot and humid climate, could have contributed to limited COVID-19 infections and deaths in the continent.

“Africa has not witnessed an exponential spread of COVID-19 as many initially feared,” said Moeti.

But we must not be complacent. Other regions of the world have experienced similar trends only to find that as social and public health measures are relaxed, cases start ramping up again,” she added.

Moeti said the next phase of anti-COVID-19 war in Africa should lay emphasis on ramped-up testing coupled with strict adherence to public health guidelines to avert new flare-ups.

“The response in African countries needs to be tailored to each country’s situation moving forward as we see different patterns of infection within a country,” said Moeti.

“Targeted and localized responses that are informed by what works best in a given region of a country will be most crucial as countries ease restrictions and open up their economies,” she added.

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