The West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) has called on members of the ECOWAS Parliament and regional leaders to brace up for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that may hit West Africa even as confirmed cases of the pandemic have hit 195,073 in the region.
The Director General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo, said this on Wednesday, while making his presentation during the technical session of the ongoing Delocalized Meeting of ECOWAS on Agricultural Production, Food Security and the Fight against Covid-19, which commenced in Guinea Bissau on Tuesday.
The Delocalised Meeting was organized by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Industry and Private Sector, Health, Energy, Mines and Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment with the theme “Agricultural Production and Food Security in the ECOWAS Region under Covid-19 Pandemic”.
Okolo tasked the region’s leaders not to relax even if the region appears to be stabilizing because the second phase may just be delayed, warning that the region lacks the vaccines and the capacity to contain a second wave of the virus.
He said: “We appear to be stabilizing but let me put a note of caution, as Europe is having a second phase, it may be that we are going to have a second phase. So, we should remain vigilant in West Africa. We don’t know whether we will have a second wave in Africa but the possibility remains, we don’t have vaccines at the moment and even when the vaccines come, we are anxious and concerned about how much we will get in Africa.
“We don’t have the capacity for producing vaccines, we don’t have enough money to get enough vaccines to cover our population, and we are down the queue in terms of the vaccines that are being produced in the developed world.”
He therefore charged the region’s leaders to emphasize on the use of masks, observe social distances, washing of hands and personal hygiene, which he said will prevent people from having Covid- 19.
He also disclosed that as of mid night on Tuesday, the sub region had recorded 195,073 confirmed cases adding that about 2,801 citizens of West Africa have died from Covid-19.
He said further “We do have at the moment just under 9,000 active cases across our region and what you can see is that this has been ranked in the order of the countries that have had the highest number of cases. Globally we have had over 51, 456,000 and Africa has had about 3.6% of the global incidences”.
He noted that the frequency of death across Africa is about 2.4%, and in ECOWAS is about 1.5%, which means that about 2 in 100 people will die from this disease.
He however, said all 15 member states of ECOWAS have done tremendously well in terms of controlling the virus, adding that they have had the political level commitment.
He lauded the assistance of international partners such as African Development Bank (AfDB), the German Government, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, and many others including the ECOWAS Commission which has invested about in 2 million dollars to curb the pandemic.
Speaking during a news conference, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohammed Tunis, assured he will rally the parliamentarians to ensure that they prevail on the member states of the regional bloc to put measures in place to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic, especially on agriculture and food security. He said “the legislature is working very hard to ensure that all the decisions taken in the ECOWAS especially on agriculture and food security are implemented in the national assemblies of member states.”