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Unite against pandemic, WHO appeals to African countries

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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has appealed to African countries to unite in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19).

WHO stated this through its Risk Communication Officer, Hawa Sesay, yesterday in Abuja, at a one-day media orientation workshop for health reporters.

The workshop was organised by Ministry of Health (FMOH) through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The aim of the workshop was to strengthen risk communications capabilities and ensure effective factual reporting with limited sensationalism on COVID-19.

There are now more than 2,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across Africa and growing warnings that the pandemic will cause major challenges for the continent’s under-resourced health services.

The World Health Organisation officials have said the statistics are likely to significantly underestimate the true number of cases. There have been 60 reported deaths so far.

About a third of the cases are in South Africa, which recorded a steep rise overnight. The country’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said yesterday that the number of coronavirus cases had reached 709, up from 554 a day before.

Sesay said what was needed at the moment to push the disease out of the continent was unity by countries by putting the best possible preventive measures in place.

She warned that the disease could spread beyond its current state, if there was no cooperation and the best possible preventive measures were not adhered to.

“Countries that have not had any case of the disease should not stay back and be watching others.

“If you do not have it, your neighbours have it and so lend a hand in support,” she said.

She urged nations, both with cases of the virus and those that have not had any case, to put adequate preventive measures in place to curtail it.

“COVID-19 is a global pandemic and so we have to fight it together.

“Countries that have not registered it should know that they have neighbours, and they should not stay back,” she advised.

According to her, since the cure for the disease has not been developed, it is better for countries to put in place measures to curtail it.

Also yesterday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) explained that mere handshake was not capable of infecting people with the virus, but touching the nose, mouths and eyes after handshake.

UNICEF’s Communication for Development Manager Mr. Rufus Eshuchi explained that contrary to the impression in some quarters, people cannot get infected with the virus through mere handshake.

According to Eshuchi, people only get infected if they shake hands with carriers and use the hands to touch their mouths, eyes or nose.

He explained that it was in this light that people were being advised to stop touching entry parts of their bodies like nose, eye and the mouth.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, who was represented by Mrs. Ladidi Bako-Aiyegbusi, th4e ministry’s Director and Head, Health Promotion Department, thanked the media for its support to government in handling the COVID-19 outbreak.

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