Africa CDC and the African Union Medical Services took joint measures to prevent and counter the spread of infectious diseases during the 33rd Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 6 to 10 February 2020.
They held a joint orientation session for staff of different African Union Commission departments who were responsible for accompanying delegations of Member States during the meetings. Personnel from the Africa CDC and African Union Medical Services checked the temperature of people entering African Union buildings, provided alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and hosted a public information desk to distribute information materials about the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the Ebola virus disease (EVD). They prepared rooms for the isolation of any person suspected of being infected. However, no suspected cases of COVID-19 or EVD were identified at the African Union during the summit.
Africa CDC and the Medical Services also partnered with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) and airport authorities for the screening of delegates arriving through the Bole International Airport. EPHI equipped laboratories for the collection and screening of samples from suspected cases and prepared isolation centres for such cases.
Africa is currently responding to outbreaks of severe infectious diseases, such as EVD, and mobilizing resources to prevent COVID-19. Since the onset of the COVID-2019 outbreak, Africa CDC has been working with Member States and partners to strengthen capacity to respond to an eventual outbreak of the disease in Africa.
“In close collaboration with WHO and other partners, we are preparing the continent as quickly as possible to be able to respond to this threat should it occur in the continent,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC.
Africa CDC has established a task force for preparedness and response to the outbreak in Africa, it is sourcing and providing testing reagents to Member States, has held a training on laboratory diagnostics of COVID-2019 for 16 African Union Member States, and is engaging with Member States regularly to receive updates and understand their capacity needs. Africa CDC is planning other training on laboratory diagnostics, surveillance, infection prevention and control, clinical care, and risk communication to boost the capacity of Member States.