Adapted Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Pandemic

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BACKGROUND
One and a half years since coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread rapidly around the world, with more than 170 million reported infections (and almost 5 million on the African continent) and 3.7 million reported deaths (>131,000 on the African continent) as of 5 June 2021. The virus transmits readily between people, primarily by inhalation of aerosolised virus. It has a much higher mortality rate in older adults and other high-risk groups and can be transmitted by infected people who have no or minimal symptoms. Since the virus’s first detection, several Variants of Concern (VOC) have been identified as being even more transmissible and more deadly than the original virus.

Although the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been slower in many African countries when compared to the global level, the continental case-fatality ratio is now higher than the global rate. Almost all African Union Member States have experienced at least two waves of cases, with most experiencing a more severe second wave.

COVID-19 will likely continue to cause widespread illness and death in Africa, particularly in people with advanced age and/or underlying illnesses. Africa’s baseline vulnerability is also high, given its relatively fragile health systems, concurrent epidemics of vaccine-preventable and other infectious diseases, inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure, population mobility, and susceptibility for social and political unrest during times of crisis. It also continues to affect the global and continental economies and threaten individuals’ livelihoods.
In addition to the social and economic disruptions caused by the disease and some of the measures used to contain it, progress on vaccination campaigns globally is making travel and other activities for unvaccinated persons difficult, which has the potential to cause further harm to lives and livelihoods.

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