The World Well being Group referred to as on African nations Thursday to take complete security measures to “mitigate a surge” in COVID-19 instances, as nations resume air journey.
The African financial system, which is closely reliant on journey and tourism, has been struck onerous by the worldwide pandemic.
“Air journey is important to the financial well being of nations,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, mentioned Thursday in a press launch.
“However as we take to the skies once more, we can not let our guard down. Our new regular nonetheless requires stringent measures to stem the unfold of COVID-19.”
Earlier within the pandemic, 36 sub-Saharan African nations closed their borders to worldwide journey, with eight extra blocking flights from the worst-hit nations.
Now, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia have resumed business flights, and the 15 members of the Financial Group of West African States will open their airspaces on July 25.
The WHO really helpful that African nations implement “complete” entry and exit screening, keep social distancing the place doable, encourage “cough etiquette,” register incoming passengers and comply with up with them to trace the outbreak.
Thursday’s press launch got here hours after Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union’s commissioner for infrastructure and vitality, mentioned that the continent had misplaced almost $55 billion in journey and tourism income in simply three months due to the pandemic.
Africa had beforehand anticipated income jumps in these sectors this yr. “Now we have 24 million African households whose livelihood is linked to journey and tourism,” Abou-Zeid mentioned.
“The blow may be very onerous, between the financial losses and the job losses.”
African airways, she added, have skilled an $eight billion, or 95%, drop in income, alongside different financial losses.
The Worldwide Financial Fund projected final month that the sub-Saharan African financial system would shrink by 3.2% this yr, revised from a 1.6% contraction in April.
The WHO, nevertheless, pressed nations to weigh the monetary prices of sustaining closed borders with the prices of a extra extreme outbreak, and requested nations to resolve if their well being care and get in touch with tracing methods may deal with a rise in COVID-19 instances.
Temperature screening at factors of entry is comparatively well-established in Africa due to the continent’s expertise with Ebola, Moeti mentioned Thursday at a WHO-World Financial Discussion board press convention. Ebola outbreaks have additionally primed COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, she mentioned.
As of Thursday, Africa had over 414,000 confirmed infections and almost 200,000 recoveries, in accordance with the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
Over 10,000 folks have died. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria have reported essentially the most instances within the area by far.
About 22% of locations worldwide had eased journey restrictions as of June 25, up from simply 3% in mid-Might, in accordance with the U.N. World Tourism Group. Most are in Europe.
On Tuesday, the European Union launched an inventory of 15 nations whose residents can be allowed to enter the bloc, offered the gesture was reciprocated.