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WHO AFRO Outbreaks and Other Emergencies Week 9: 24 February - 1 March 2020 Data as reported by: 17:00; 1 March 2020

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Overview

This Weekly Bulletin focuses on public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 73 events in the region. This week’s main articles cover key new and ongoing events, including:

Corona virus in Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal

Lassa fever in Benin

Lassa fever in Nigeria

Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Humanitarian crisis in Cameroon

For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as recent events that have largely been controlled and thus closed.

Major issues and challenges include:

As the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic evolves rapidly globally, three countries in the WHO African region, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal reported confirmed cases during the week. This brings to five, the countries in the African continent that confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Egypt being the first and Morocco the latest. All the cases recorded in Africa were imported and no local transmission has been established. With the fragile healthcare systems in Africa, COVID-19 remains a big threat, with the potential to cause serious public health impact, economic loss and social disruption. National authorities in Africa are urged to urgently close the gaps in their preparedness and readiness capabilities. In the event where cases are imported to the region, aggressive containment measures need to be implemented to stop further spread of the disease and prevent establishment of local transmission. Additionally, governments need to develop business continuity plans to maintain essential services in the worst-case scenario.
Finally, governments are advised to appropriate adequate local resources for preparedness and response activities in their countries.
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo remains stable, with low levels of transmission. While this development is encouraging, the outbreak still has the potential to escalate when the ongoing control measures are not maintained and sustained. With the multiple public health events going on globally and locally, we must not lose sight of the EVD outbreak. Adequate resources need to be provided to support EVD response activities in Democratic Republic of the Congo and preparedness activities in the neighbouring countries.