Author: African Union, Africa CDC
Type of publication: Report
In Africa, the primary strategy for COVID-19 will be to limit transmission and minimize harm. Given that transmission throughout the continent is inevitable, delaying and diminishing the peak of outbreaks can help health systems better manage the surge of patients and communities better adapt to the disruption of social, cultural, and economic activities. Tactics to achieve this include rapid diagnosis and isolation of infected persons, quarantine of people who had close contact with an infected person, and social distancing within the general population. Rigorous infection prevention and control practices will be needed in healthcare facilities and other high-risk congregate settings, including schools and prisons. Healthcare facilities will need to restrict hospital admission to infected persons who absolutely require a higher-level of care, such as intravenous antibiotics, oxygen, ventilatory or hemodynamic support, and/or management of complex co-morbid conditions.
Limiting transmission and minimizing harm from COVID-19 will require an all-of-government approach. Social unrest could result from healthcare facilities having insufficient capacity, stock-outs of essential food, medications, or other supplies, and resistance to social distancing policies that limit work, school, cultural events, and/or religious practice. Despite WHO guidance to keep borders open to people and commodities, travel and trade restrictions have become widespread since mid-January 2020. In Africa, similar closures could have devastating impacts on health, economies, and social stability in many African countries which depend on trade with neighbors and non-African countries. All government agencies will need to be involved in implementing COVID-19 response activities, including, for example, finance, justice, trade, agriculture, education, and finance.
- Prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 infection in Member States
- Minimize social disruption and economic consequences of COVID-19 outbreaks
- Coordinate efforts of Member States, African Union agencies, World Health Organization, and other partners to ensure synergy and minimize duplication.
- Promote evidence-based public health practice for surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19. Coordinate efforts of Member States, African Union agencies, World Health Organization, and other partners to ensure synergy and minimize duplication.
1.1 African Union: Collaborate across African Union to ensure high-level political commitment and leadership across all sectors involved in COVID-19 response, particularly Peace and Security, Trade and Industry, Economic Affairs, and Rural Economy and Agriculture.
1.2 Multilateral: Ensure complementarity and synergy of guidance, advocacy, and Member State support with World Health Organization, including headquarters and regional offices for Eastern Mediterranean Region and African Region, and other multilateral partners.
1.3 Regional Economic Communities: Partner with regional economic communities of Africa to promote implementation of Africa CDC guidance, particularly regarding borders and trade.
1.4 Member States: Provide technical assistance and essential commodities to Member States to support an all-of-government approach to COVID-19, consistent with Africa CDC guidance.
1.5 Private Sector: Support airlines and airports in screening for and management of COVID-19 cases and collaborate to maintain supply chains for shared resources, including personal protective equipment, laboratory supplies and equipment, and, if available and necessary, medical countermeasures.
1.6 Donors, Foundations, and Other Stakeholders: Collaborate with donors, foundations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders to strengthen public health capacity for COVID-19 control.
Promote evidence-based public health practice for surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19.
2.1 Surveillance: Collect, analyze, and disseminate accurate, timely data about the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Member States. High priorities include: (a) ensuring high-quality screening at points of entry, among contacts of cases, and other highrisk settings, (b) enhancing existing influenza-like illness, severe acute respiratory illness, and event-based surveillance systems1 , (c) supporting complete and prompt investigation of cases and tracing of contacts; (d) adapting health information systems for managing case and contact data; (e) monitoring and reporting numbers, characteristics, and outcomes of cases that are both clinically diagnosed and laboratory confirmed, (f) investigating rumors and supporting prompt communication to debunk false stories.
2.2 Laboratory: Ensure quality-assured testing for COVID-19 diagnosis, genotyping, and special studies. High priorities include: (a) equipping and training public health laboratories at the national and sub-national level, (b) supporting selected laboratories to perform next generation sequencing on COVID-19 specimens and open sharing of sequences, (c) strengthening reference laboratories and laboratory networks for specimen referral testing and quality assurance, including inter-laboratory comparison and proficiency testing, (d) facilitating biobanks and evaluation of new assays for diagnosis or special studies, particularly point-of-care technologies and serology.
2.3 Countermeasures: Support Member States to implement evidence-based interventions at individual and population-level to reduce COVID-19 transmission. High priorities include: (a) assessment, monitoring, and movement restrictions in contacts of and other persons at high risk of COVID-19 infection, (b) implementing rigorous hand hygiene in all congregate settings, such as schools, prisons, stadiums, transportation hubs, offices, shopping malls, and large religious congregations, (c) supporting limited, respectful social distancing, such as closure of schools, in settings at high risk of widespread transmission.
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