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COVID-19 not yet over: WHO


AFRICAN countries have been urged to integrate the COVID-19 pandemic into their disease management ecosystems as the highly infectious respiratory disease remains a major threat, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Early last month, the world health body declared that COVID-19 was no longer a global public health emergency, but despite this pronouncement, it remains a public health threat.

Briefing the media on the current COVID-19 situation in Africa yesterday, WHO African Region COVID-19 Incident Management Support Team’s incident manager Jayne Byakika Tusiime urged African countries not to sit on their laurels following the WHO decree on COVID-19.

“The disease still exists globally and we should not let our guard down. Let’s be cautious and protect our loved ones. It’s time for African countries to transition from emergency mode, to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases,” Byakika Tusiime said.

“We need to manage COVID-19 like any other infectious disease. Let’s treat it the way we treat influenza, HIV and other diseases.” 

She said despite there being a handful of reported cases of COVID-19 in the region, the situation had markedly improved with less mortality and an increased immunity against the virus.

However, she implored Africa to encourage vaccination against the respiratory disease.

“Vaccination has been one of the life-saving tools that we have been using. Going forward, we should not lose sight, but encourage our people to be vaccinated. Our figures are worrisome considering that 36% of people in Africa have been vaccinated by at least one dose while 30% have completed the primary series (two doses),” Byakika Tusiime said.

“As Africa, we have enough COVID-19 vaccines and people should be encouraged to go and get vaccinated, if they don’t, the vaccines will expire.”

She said only four countries in Africa — Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles and Rwanda — had vaccinated more than 70% of their populations against COVID-19, a sad scenario which she said might trigger another catastrophe.

Byakika Tusiime said WHO would continue supporting Africa with regards to COVID-19 and other diseases.

She said at the peak of COVID-19, hospitals and healthcare systems were under unprecedented pressure, adding that this was time to rebuild the healthcare system.

Discussing the issue in Cabinet yesterday, ministers noted that as of Tuesday this week, cumulative COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe stood at 265 362, with 259 378 recoveries and 5 703 deaths.

Cabinet also noted that there were six recorded deaths during the week compared to two in the previous week.

There were also 29 new admissions compared to the 11 recorded the previous week, with five being in intensive care.

Acting Health and Child Care minister Amon Murwira said as of Tuesday, cumulative suspected cholera cases had reached 2 460, with 2 243 recoveries, 16 confirmed deaths and 47 suspected deaths.

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