The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have launched a network of laboratories to reinforce genome sequencing of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, in Africa.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said this in Cape Town, South Africa.
Twelve reference laboratories in various African countries will provide sequencing, data analysis and technical support services to the rest of the continent, the two organisations announced in a joint statement.
“As we continue to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, being able to not only track its evolution but also assess the possible mutation of the virus is crucial to mounting an effective response,” said Dr Moeti.
“Through this new laboratory network dedicated to genome sequencing, we can better develop vaccines and treatment which are tailored to Africans and eventually bring COVID-19 under control.”
The laboratory network will also inform the development of vaccines and treatment of Covid-19 in a way tailored to Africans, Moeti said.
More than 2,000 sequences from 18 countries – Algeria, Benin, Cameroun, DRC, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia – have already been generated, he said.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, said the establishment of the COVID-19 sequencing network will help countries to effectively manage and control the pandemic.
“In 2019, Africa CDC launched the Institute for Pathogen Genomics to support the integration of pathogen genomics and bioinformatics into public health surveillance, outbreak detection and investigations, and improve disease control and prevention in Africa. The establishment of the COVID-19 sequencing network will help improve surveillance in the continent and help countries to effectively manage and control the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic curve flattens in Africa, we must be prepared for a possible resurgence as already observed in some countries. With genomic sequencing we can have a better understanding of the pandemic through more precise identification of transmission clusters,” said .
According to the statement, the WHO and Africa CDC partnership to establish a COVID-19 sequencing laboratory network is very important in determining the response to a given SARS-CoV-2 strain and in helping countries manage localized or imported transmission.
Namibia Gets Additional COVID-19 Donation from China
The Namibia government has received a large consignment of medical equipments from China, bringing to over N$52 million the value of all medical goods the southern African country has received from the Asian nation.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, received the equipment from the Chinese Ambassador, HE Zang Yiming, this week.
This is the fourth official donation from China to Namibia. The consignment comprises 30,000 face masks, 10 oxygenators, 20 ventilators and 100 thermometers.
It follows the 29 batches of equipment donated previously.
At the donation ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister made it clear that “this donation will go a long way to help strengthen the country’s health system by providing the highest quality care, and empowering communities during these difficult times. The support by the Government of China in fighting Covid-19 will assist Namibia to be successful in responding to this unprecedented global health crisis.”
The Ambassador said “In the face of non-traditional security threats such as public health, all countries, big or small, rich or poor, should strengthen their solidarity and cooperation to cope better with risks and challenges and protect the global village in which we live together.”
“May I also take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Minister of Health and Social Services and all frontline workers that include doctor, nurses, social workers, pharmacist, drivers, and essential workers for their enormous efforts in fighting Covid-19,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, health experts in Namibia have held five teleconferences with their Chinese counterparts to learn from their experience to contain the virus.
Nigeria Develops COVID-19 Test Kit That Give Results In 40 Minutes
Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, says it has developed a fast test kit for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which has brought world economies to almost a standstill.
The West African country said the Covid-19 test kit can give results in less than 40 minutes, adding that it can also be used by low-skilled people.
The Minister of State for Health, Olurunimbe Mamora, said it is much faster and 10 times cheaper than the PCR testing method currently in use in the country.
The kit is yet to be approved by regulatory bodies but has raised hopes of boosting the country’s low testing rate.
Nigeria has been importing key elements needed for coronavirus testing.
The authorities said the test kit, known as SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay, was developed by Nigeria’s Institute of Medical Research.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, told a media briefing that the kit was Nigeria’s contribution to the global fight against the pandemic through scientific research.
The health authorities said the test kits will be distributed soon to communities – after a validation process – to boost testing across the country.
Nigeria has so far tested just over 500,000 people out of its population of around 200 million.
It has recorded more than 58,000 coronavirus cases with more than 1,000 deaths. The number of daily confirmed infections is declining.
Nigeria Records Zero COVID-19 Death As Cases Dip
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control – NCDC – says no death was recorded in the last 24-hours, as the country recorded 187 new cases of COVID-19 in 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The NCDC disclosed this on its official twitter handle.
It added that Nigeria recorded a total of 58,647 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The centre said that Lagos State recorded most cases with 74, followed by Plateau and Rivers States recorded 25 each.
In addition, Gombe and FCT recorded 19 new cases each. Others are Osun-10, Kaduna-five, Borno-three, Ogun-two, Katsina-two, Nasarawa-one, Bayelsa-one, and Edo-one.
The NCDC stated that 47 patients have been treated and discharged in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 7,599 active cases across the country.
The centre says 49,937 patients have recovered and 1,111 have died from the virus infection.
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