“We have a choice. Can we come together to face a common enemy? Or will we allow fear, suspicion and irrationality to distract and divide us?”

-WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

This question was asked by the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the just concluded Munich Security Conference. What is to be done about this fear among Africans especially after Egypt reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case, knowing the current health facility available to them?

To give an overview of what the COVID-19 represents. 

It is the name of the disease caused by the most recent coronavirus that was first identified on December 31, 2019, thus the name- COrona VIrus Disease-19.

According to WHO, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). These viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In most severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

To prevent the spread of the infection, it is important to:

  • wash our hands regularly,
  • cover our mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
  • thoroughly cook meat and eggs,
  • avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

About my question on fear,

Presently, over 50, 000 cases have been reported worldwide, with a confirmed case in Egypt, Africa. As an African, am I meant to be scared? Yes! But will anything good come out of retreating in fear? No!

While fear is not an option, how can we all be of help to this ongoing war between man and the novel coronavirus?

To start with is a list of the requests made by Mr Tedros at the Munich Security Conference to the international community:

  • First is to intensify our preparation in readiness for the disease. We must be ready to treat patients with dignity and compassion, to prevent onward transmission, protect health workers and supply the tools needed for effective treatments of patients.
  • Second is to curb the transfer of fake news on the status of COVID-19 which seems to be doing more harm than the disease itself.
  • The third is the government is advised to work with all forms of health agencies in the country as any approach against COVID-19 has to be one led by science and evidence.
  • Last is we can only do so much by being united, stigmatization cannot bring any pleasing results.

That said, I want to encourage you, our reader in that as we work together on curbing fake news, we must still do our best to enlighten the general public on the signs, symptoms of COVID-19 and the recommended preventive approaches as this really is the least we can do to help in the fight against our newest enemy, COVID-19.

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