'Mass testing isn't feasible. Africa will need solidarity and support,' WHO manager tells The Agenda
The Agenda

Could Africa become the next epicenter for COVID-19? With many areas lacking essential health supplies, the continent will require an international effort to prevent the pandemic spreading uncontrollably there. 

Michel Yao is the emergency operations program manager for the World Health Organization's regional office in Africa, which is responsible for 47 sub-Saharan countries. Understandably, he says coordination is key.

"We are helping lab workers based on an existing network that was there through an influenza program to quickly scale up the laboratory: 45 of the 47 can perform the test so far," he told Stephen Cole on The Agenda. 

"Then isolation and treatment where supply is required to protect health workers - masks and gloves - we are making sure they are available and that health workers have clear protocol to treat safely."

Yao added the WHO was also having to tackle misinformation: "We also work on ensuring communities are well-informed. Many rumors can be the cause of resistance to public health measures which are put in place to control the outbreak."

Asked by Cole if the continent could cope if COVID-19 reached an epic scale, Yao said: "We expect to reach an upsurge quite soon and we think it will challenge capacity of most African countries. It's a combination of solidarity and support that will help Africa deal with this situation."

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