Strong adherence to handwashing and hygiene protocols is a major weapon in fighting the spread of the disease but, in countries where access to clean water is a struggle for people on a daily basis, this is not always an option.
The promotion of safe hygiene is one of the cornerstones of Concern’s work, making the arrival of this pandemic particularly worrying.
The first case in sub-Saharan Africa was confirmed in Nigeria in late February, with the World Health Organisation warning of an “extremely rapid evolution” of the virus – which is now present in 34 of Africa’s 54 countries.
While numbers are low at present, they are rising all the time.
More than 3,900 Concern staff are on high alert in the most vulnerable countries in the world in preparation to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley says that the humanitarian aid sector is under no illusions about the threat posed by the outbreak.
“If COVID-19 strikes at scale where we work in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean, millions of lives will be at risk.”
Across the world, governments are putting measures in place aimed at slowing the rate of progress of COVID-19.
These include increased testing, and guidance on self-isolation for those who have either tested positive themselves or come into close contact with someone else who has the virus, as well as the rapid dissolution of planned public gatherings and events.
It was announced yesterday that schools in Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country with a population of over 20 million, are to close from Monday in an attempt to stifle the spread of the disease.