Africa’s Fragile Health Systems Rush to Contain Coronavirus

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Governments across Africa are rushing to reinforce measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, fearing that fragile health systems will be swiftly overwhelmed if the disease spreads beyond a small number of cases on the continent. World Health Organization (WHO) officials have called for a strong response to a “tremendously fast rise in the number of countries with cases being confirmed.” “We have to ratchet up what is being done,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. “It is what is done at this point that will determine the numbers who will become very ill … I still think it is possible that we will prevent large numbers of people dying but it needs coordination, a huge effort and huge resources.” Most infections involve people who have recently been in Europe or other disease hot spots, but the number of cases of internal transmission are rising every day. … Health officials across Africa know that hospitals can deal with only a fraction of those needing care if the virus spreads through overcrowded cities, remote villages and among vulnerable populations such as refugees, the malnourished or those suffering from HIV and other chronic conditions.