ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday urged the African continent to increase compliance to the public health and social measures as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to gain momentum in Africa.
On Friday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent has exceeded the 1 million mark, reaching 1,007,366 confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, according to the Africa CDC.
"As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy," an Africa CDC statement quoted John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Director, as saying on Friday.
"We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services," the Africa CDC Director said in his message regarding the launch of the World Mask Week, slated from August 7 to 14, as an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.
According to the continental disease control and prevention agency, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 also rose to 22,066 on Friday as some 690,436 COVID-19 patients have recovered across the continent so far.
South Africa, the worst-hit country on the continent, has registered 538,184 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, followed by Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco, the agency said.
As the pandemic spread across Africa, the Africa CDC together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 40 other global, regional and national organizations and institutions have initiated the Pandemic Action Network, which launched the World Mask Week that envisaged increasing the use of face coverings in public in Africa and beyond.
According to the Africa CDC, the newly introduced initiative encourages people and organizations in Africa and beyond to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available.
The initiative was launched by the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched as part of his Wear a Mask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos, it was noted.
"Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates in Africa and across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world," the Africa CDC statement read.
"Until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have -- particularly where social distancing is not practical," the Africa CDC noted.
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of more than 40 organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.
Despite the latest call to increase compliance to the public health and social measures, the Africa CDC had recently warned African countries to brace for possible "acute shortage" of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the near future.
"Due to disruptions in the global supply chain, some African countries may face the risk of an acute shortage of personal protective equipment," the Africa CDC warned earlier this month.
The Africa CDC, which noted that some 41 countries are practicing mandatory public use of face masks, stressed that preventing a crisis such as acute shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers "should be prioritized by health authorities in Africa as part of the COVID-19 response."
It also stressed that the COVID-19 response team "should include actions to prevent PPE shortages in their planning, as adequate planning may minimize the negative consequences of an acute shortage."
"Planning to prevent critical shortages should be done in advance, with clear triggers for implementation and resumption of standard practice," the continental disease control and prevention agency added. Enditem