gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); WHO Warns of Covid-19 Resurgence; Urges Zimbabwe to Enhance Containment Measures – The Zimbabwe Mail

WHO Warns of Covid-19 Resurgence; Urges Zimbabwe to Enhance Containment Measures

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns over a resurgence of Covid-19 cases following this year’s Hajj, urging Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry to enhance its containment measures.

In a letter addressed to Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Aspect Maunganidze on July 2, 2024, the WHO highlighted the increased risk of Covid-19 transmission due to the return of nearly two million Muslims from the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Held from June 14 to 19, the 2024 Hajj attracted pilgrims from around the world, prompting fears that the virus could spread to their home countries. These concerns are particularly pressing for Zimbabwe, which is currently grappling with a severe influenza outbreak that has already resulted in fatalities.

“WHO has received reports of a rise in Covid-19 cases in some countries among pilgrims returning from the recent Hajj in Mecca,” the letter states. “Countries with returning pilgrims carry a risk of a rise in new Covid-19 infections. All countries concerned have been advised to heighten their readiness measures in case of a surge in cases.”

In response to these developments, WHO recommended that countries increase their surveillance and quarantine protocols. Specifically, the letter suggested heightened Covid-19 screening at points of entry to identify symptomatic individuals and advised all returnees to self-isolate for five days if asymptomatic and seven days if symptomatic.

The letter also emphasized the importance of public awareness campaigns. “Develop and run appropriate messages on electronic billboards at the airports on the current situation, risk of infection, prevention, and where to seek care if sick,” it reads.

According to reports, Senegal, which sent approximately 12,900 pilgrims to the Hajj, has already recorded 78 cases of the virus among returning pilgrims at Blaise Diagne International Airport. This situation underscores the urgency of the WHO’s recommendations.

The WHO also urged the Zimbabwean government to notify health facilities about the potential increase in Covid-19 cases and to maintain a high level of vigilance, particularly in areas with limited testing capacity.

“Notify health facilities of the potential increase in cases and the need for a raised index of suspicion for Covid-19, especially in situations with limited testing capacity,” the letter added.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, led to global lockdowns and severe travel restrictions. Most non-essential activities were halted worldwide, including in Zimbabwe, to contain the virus’s spread. The recent warning from WHO serves as a reminder that vigilance and preventive measures remain crucial in the ongoing battle against Covid-19, especially in the aftermath of large international gatherings like the Hajj.