Mothers wait for high nutrition foods and health services at Tawkal 2 Dinsoor camp for internally displaced persons in Baidoa, Somalia on Feb 14, 2022.(YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)
MOGADISHU / WINDHOEK – The World Health Organization on Thursday launched a new project to prevent the community spread of COVID-19 across Somalia.
WHO Representative to Somalia Mamunur Rahman Malik said the project will address existing gaps in coordination, surveillance, vaccination, and the operational response to COVID-19 and help the country's health system recover from the pandemic toward a more inclusive and equitable system.
According to WHO, Somalia had 27,137 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 1,351 related deaths as of Wednesday and the country's disease surveillance system remains fragmented and weak
Malik said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, that the WHO in collaboration with partners including the Somali government will ramp up measures to contain and suppress the spread of COVID-19.
"This would prevent the resurgence of the virus. It would also minimize adverse effects of the pandemic on other life-saving essential health services, such as routine immunization for children, which has already slid back substantively in the last two years," he added.
According to WHO, Somalia had 27,137 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 1,351 related deaths as of Wednesday and the country's disease surveillance system remains fragmented and weak.
Currently, only 62 percent of health facilities in Somalia are reporting through the early warning and alert and response network, WHO said.
It also said the country could vaccinate only 15 percent of its population against COVID-19 fully, leaving many high-risk populations unvaccinated.
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Malik said WHO will work to limit communities' exposure to COVID-19 and reduce mortality and morbidity among vulnerable populations.
He said this will be accomplished by supporting the government and federal member states to maintain active surveillance for early case detection, laboratory confirmation, and contact tracing, and improve information and data sharing, including innovation and research.
According to WHO, an effective and robust response to COVID-19 outbreaks will be crucial to save lives, reduce the disease burden, and protect the general population's health.
Somalia's fragile health system has been struggling to sustain the progress made in containing and mitigating the transmission of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations, especially among around 47 percent of people who live in hard-to-reach areas, where disease reporting is weak and incomplete.
This results in underreporting and the actual magnitude and size of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country may not represent the true burden of the disease, the UN agency said.
People queue to be tested for COVID-19 in Windhoek, Namibia, on June 15, 2021. (DIRK HEINRICH / AP)
Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula on Thursday said people visiting Namibia will no longer be required to produce a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result at the ports of entry.
Shangula said in a statement that the current epidemiological situation no longer supports the retention of this requirement.
"Consequently, the entry requirement into Namibia by foreign travelers of vaccination license and a negative PCR test result has been scrapped," he said.
The ministry last month decided to cease daily updates on COVID-19 and replaced them with weekly reports on Thursdays.
Shangula added that the weekly COVID-19 updates will be discontinued immediately, given that COVID-19 cases have exponentially decreased.
Dr Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, gives and opening statement during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants on Jan 11, 2022 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (GREG NASH / POOL / AFP)
US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci in an interview decried the political polarization that impeded the country's response to COVID-19, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
In a taped interview that would appear at noon US Eastern Time on Bloomberg, Fauci said he would advise his successor — who has yet to be named — to stay out of politics.
"The country has come to a state where even politicians are saying things that are triggering thoughts of violence and harassment against me and my family, but that's just the state of our nation," he said in the interview, adding that "I accept that. I don't like it."
Fauci said he expected the country would have moved past the COVID-19 pandemic after the first year of the Biden administration, but the disruption from the virus has lingered longer than the infectious disease expert anticipated, Bloomberg reported.
The United States needs to learn the lessons of COVID-19 to be ready for future outbreaks, Fauci said in the interview, calling the culture at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "not optimal" for responding to a global pandemic.