Roundup: Africa CDC urges African countries to enhance surveillance measures amid rapid COVID-19 spike

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Saturday warned African countries to continue enhancing their surveillance measures amid the rapid spike of COVID-19 across the continent.

"All member states should continue to enhance their surveillance to include COVID-19 and severe acute respiratory infections, which includes adding questions about travel, contact history, and testing for COVID-19 to existing influenza surveillance systems, and notifying healthcare facilities to immediately inform local public health," the AU Commission's specialized healthcare agency warned in its COVID-19 situation update issued on Saturday.

AU member states also urged to perform contact tracing of confirmed cases based on transmission type and country capacity; as well as to notify and routinely share with WHO and Africa CDC data regarding suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries, tests conducted and healthcare workers infected to continually inform these and other updates.

As of Saturday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent reached 3,391,198, as the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 83,859, according to the latest figures from the Africa CDC.

The most affected African countries in terms of caseload include South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, said the African Union (AU) Commission's specialized healthcare agency.

According to the Africa CDC, the majority of AU member states, accounting for 86 percent, continue to report community transmission.

The Africa CDC also advised "to put in place or strengthen existing public health and social measures as cases start to rise especially through the holiday."

African countries have also been urged to continue to guide the general public about seeking immediate medical care and informing healthcare providers about recent travel or contact history in anyone who develops symptoms of severe respiratory illness.

According to the Africa CDC, from the countries actively reporting COVID-19 epidemiologic data to the Africa CDC, some 21 countries are reporting case fatality rates higher than the global case fatality rate of 2.2 percent.

The countries include Sahrawi Arab Republic at 11.8 percent, Sudan at 6.1 percent, at Egypt 5.5 percent, Liberia at 4.4 percent, Mali at 4 percent, Chad as 3.9 percent, Niger at 3.4 percent, the Gambia at 3.3 percent, Tunisia at 3.2 percent, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at 3 percent, and Eswatini at 2.9 percent, it was noted.

In terms of the five African regions, the majority of new COVID-19 cases being reported for last week are from the Southern region, accounting for about 66 percent of the total COVID-19 cases reported the past week, followed by the Northern region accounting 19 percent, Western region 9 percent, Eastern region 3 percent and Central region 2 percent, according to the Africa CDC.

Countries reporting the highest incidence of COVID-19 new cases per 100,000 population the past week include South Africa 183 per 100,000, Seychelles 174, Tunisia 166, Eswatini 108, and Cape Verde 93, it was noted

Last week, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) and Africa CDC through the AU secured the first tranche of 270 million COVID-19 vaccines for the continent.

Amid the rapid spike of the virus African countries have so far conducted over 29.2 million COVID-19 tests with a positivity rate of 11 percent, it was noted.

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