Ernest Cece Peguita: Africa facing the COVID-19 pandemic – Testing, the first bulwark against the spread

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The COVID19 pandemic emerged in China in November 2019, affecting more than 416,686 people and making more than 18,589 victims in more than 197 countries. To combat the spread of the disease, many countries have announced containment measures that could lead to the closure of more than half of the world's population. China, which is the starting point for the pandemic, has managed to control the spread of the virus thanks to drastic measures. Meanwhile, European countries are struggling to contain the virus, in Italy the virus has claimed more than 7500 lives (twice as many as in China), and thus the country has been hit hardest by the disease. The number of cases is followed up by Spain, Germany and France. Europe alone accounts for more than half of the cases worldwide.

In the United States, the number of infected continues to explode, with more than 50,000 new cases registered in a week, with New York State remaining the most affected with more than 30,800 confirmed cases. And the country, many experts admit, is in the process of becoming the next epicenter of the pandemic, with the highest growth rate in positive cases in the world. Facts, which can be attributed to the delay the authorities have taken in the certification of test sets with virus screening.

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Africa, which appeared to have been spared at the onset of the pandemic, has begun to register the first cases. The most affected countries on the continent, such as South Africa, Egypt and Algeria, have on average less than 500 positive cases. The vast majority of other countries have fewer than 50 confirmed cases. The major concern, however, is the continent's ability to cope with the rapid spread of the virus, and a subsequent health crisis, all the more so because few countries on the continent have the necessary means to provide adequate care to people who will be most severely affected. The other concern is the fact that very few tests have been conducted on the continent. As the Secretary General of WHO said: “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, Test, Test. "For a disease in which 70-80% of carriers are asymptomatic (have no symptoms or have mild symptoms), the likelihood of quiet spread is very high, as evidenced by the explosion of cases in the United States after the onset of testing. It is therefore possible that in Africa, undiscovered positive cases are in circulation and may lead to persistent social transfer, at which stage the affected countries will be forced to take drastic containment measures as in Europe.

Testing of all suspected cases is therefore still our first against the spread of the virus. The most commonly used diagnostic method today is the RT-PCR method, which aims to detect genetic traces of the virus through an analysis of RNA. This test requires a lot of expertise and specific medical equipment. In Africa, only a few countries have the capacity to perform the test. The second diagnostic method is to detect antibodies through a serum sample. This test is much simpler and is done thanks to quick test kits like those distributed by Freshvale. Beyond their simplicity, the FV-COVID19 fast test kits are the fastest (15 minutes) to date and are used today in Japan, Italy, China and many others to accelerate large-scale screening for the disease.

The fear of an explosion of cases in Africa is real, and even though international solidarity is set up to help the continent in the event of such an explosion, it is all the more important that the continent adopts WHO recommendations and that our authorities take all necessary steps to to prevent a health crisis. We can't afford to be complaining, because the stakes are high.

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Ernest Cece Peguita

2nd year doctorate in modern international law

RUDN UNIVERSITY

Moscow, Russia
Tel: +7 963 964 50-90

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