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Africa CDC Warns States to Maintain Pandemic Precautions

The calamitous COVID-19 outbreak in India is a wake-up call for Africa that its governments and citizens must not let their guard down, the disease-control agency of the African Union (AU) has warned. African nations generally do not have sufficient numbers of healthcare workers, hospital beds or oxygen supplies – and the continent of 1.3 billion would be even more overwhelmed than India if cases surged in a similar way, said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). With 1.35 billion people, India has a similar population size to the African continent, yet Africa has weaker health systems, and unlike India does not manufacture significant quantities of drugs or vaccines, he said. Nkengasong urged Africans to wear masks and avoid large gatherings, warning: “We cannot and should not find ourselves in [India’s] scenario because of the very fragile nature of our health systems.” He said all political and religious gatherings and parties should be banned for the time being as they “give the opportunity for the virus to spread.” The AU will convene a meeting with all African ministers of health on May 8, Nkengasong said, to “put everybody on alert”.