In Africa, the number of COVID-19 cases and impacted countries has been increasing steadily. As of 12 March 2020, 129 cases have been diagnosed in 12 countries, with one death recorded. The experience in countries outside Africa is that, after initial cases are diagnosed, community transmission occurs rapidly. Member States need to immediately implement individual social distancing and plan to implement community social distancing.
Social distancing is an accepted strategy to delay and reduce the magnitude of outbreaks of pandemic influenza. At the individual level, social distancing involves the use of non-contact greetings, maintaining at least one metre distance between yourself and other people, and staying home when ill. At the community level, social distancing involves closure of any events or settings in which people gather together, including schools, workplaces, houses of worship, and cultural, social and sports events. For COVID-19, social distancing is necessary at the individual and community levels, because transmission occurs frequently from person-to-person and infection causes severe illness in up to 20 percent of people. No population immunity exists, and no vaccine or cure exists yet. Reducing contact between people reduces the cumulative number of opportunities for transmission and it’s the only way to help protect people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.