WINDHOEK - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has flagged four Southern African countries, namely Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia, among nine other African countries, as highly exposed to coronavirus because of their direct travel links with China.
WHO said the flagging was primarily arrived on after strict surveillance of the high risk countries’ exposure to Chinese and Asian visitors.
A number of the countries put on the high risky level in Africa are primarily those with heavier bilateral and business relations with China where the Asians frequently visit because of the direct flight connections while those that are not directly connected to China are considered moderately safe, to safe.
WHO health emergency and IHR officer, Dr Petrus Mhata, last week told the Namibian media that although Namibia remains a very low risky country to the spread of novel coronavirus, they had so far flagged 13 countries in Africa that are highly susceptible to the virus because of high travel links between them and China.
The countries are Algeria, Ivory Coast, DRC, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Zambia.
He added that there is a need for the media in Namibia and the region in general to be well-informed with the intricacies of the virus in order to communicate the relevant and accurate message to the audience.
Commenting on the ongoing challenge of the coronavirus, WHO Namibia country representative, Charles Sagoe-Moses, said while Namibia remained a low risky country in terms of spreading the virus, there was a need for that country and many other countries on the continent to remain on high alert.
“Globally, WHO has been working with the Chinese government and the international community to address the gaps and the uncertainties about how to detect this, how to prevent further spread and what measures to take to contain it.
“We are increasing our communication capacity so our advice and guidance reaches the world. People are coming to WHO for advice and guidance about the coronavirus. Our corporate website has seen more than 150 percent increase in in page viewers over the last year,” he said.
The WHO head said the 13 countries that have been flagged as high risk have been assisted to be able to test the coronavirus expeditiously while efforts are being made to also empower other countries in SADC that are on the low risk side but are not well developed or equipped to detect and deal with the challenge in cases of an outbreak.
Sagoe-Moses also encouraged African governments to consult as well as share information on the latest information associated with the virus as a best practice of keeping the spread under control.
The WHO chief in Namibia added that while Namibia and the better part of the SADC region had not recorded any potential threats due to the virus, most governments had already put in place necessary measures to control the spread of the virus on their ports of entry.