Eid al-Adha Festival Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

Most African coronavirus cases reported in Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa
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Africa (Vax Before Travel)

The African continent may exceed 1 million coronavirus cases in the coming days as the pandemic surges in several hotspot countries, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

Overall, the pandemic is accelerating with the number of new cases increasing by 50 percent during the last 14 days compared with the previous fortnight.

As of July 29, 2020, the WHO has confirmed about 18,800 fatalities on the continent related to COVID-19 disease during 2020.

Additionally, there are 41 African countries that have reported nearly 14,000 health worker infections.

Furthermore, there are 5 countries accounting for about 75 percent of cases – Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

The country of South Africa alone accounts for around half of the continent’s total COVID-19 disease cases. 

Seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa which had imposed lockdowns and have now started easing them, have experienced a 20 percent jump in cases over the past weeks. Some countries such as the Republic of the Congo and Morocco, have had to re-implement partial restrictions because of an increase in cases.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa said in a press statement on July 30, 2020, “The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands. Countries need to keep apace and urgently decentralize their key response services. We can still stop COVID-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now.”

Lifting of lockdowns that have helped to slow down the spread of COVID-19 should be evidence-based, phased, and targeted.

As borders start to re-open and with the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, marked by social and religious gatherings, there is a concern that the coronavirus could spread further, even to areas that are still untouched by COVID-19 disease.

Eid al-Adha is the 2nd of two great Muslim festivals, the other being Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the Hajj rites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for 4 days. During 2020, most countries start the festival on July 31st.

“Any decision to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a standardized risk assessment, and should be part of a comprehensive approach taken by authorities to respond to the pandemic,” said Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

WHO recently released guidance to countries and communities on public health measures for Eid Al Adha in the context of COVID-19.

"This year isn't like the others. We will have to take precautions and everyone is worried. Instead of extended family, we will be spending Eid with our immediate family," Ashraf Alserati, a Misrata resident, told Al Jazeera. 

The WHO is supporting African countries to respond to COVID-19 by providing technical guidance, crucial medical equipment and has remotely trained more than 72,000 health workers and partnered with regional and national professional associations to build on existing capacity. 

Through an online supply portal, WHO, other United Nations agencies and partners have also organized shipments of more than 650 requests of key equipment, including more than 2400 oxygen concentrators to 47 countries in the region.

‘We know the strategies and have the tools to control this pandemic. Our health workers are doing everything that they can. We must ensure that they have a reliable supply of personal protective equipment, supplies, and medicines,’ concluded this WHO statement.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes African based pandemic news.