WHO fears increased COVID 19 infections as Muslims celebrate Sallah

The World Health Organisation says COVID-19 may rise during the Islamic holiday due to an increase in social and religious gatherings.

WHO said this in a statement on Thursday.

“As we approach the Eid Al-Adha feast, there is also increased risk of transmission as a result of social and religious mass gatherings. Any decision to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a standardised 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.

The WHO said COVID-19 infections in Africa is approaching one million, adding that Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt and Algeria account for 75 per cent of the total number of infections.

It said the number of infections across the continent stood at 889, 457 with 18,806 deaths.

The statement reads in part, “COVID-19 infections in Africa will exceed one million cases in the coming days as the pandemic surges in several hotspot countries. In a little more than three weeks, the number of cases on the continent almost doubled to 889 457, with 18 806 deaths.

“Overall, the pandemic is accelerating with the number of new cases increasing by 50 per cent during the last 14 days compared with the previous fortnight. However, only five countries account for about 75 per cent of the cumulative COVID-19 cases – they are Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.”

The WHO noted that 41 African countries had reported nearly 14, 000 health worker infections.

It stated that there was a need to increase the scale and quality of public health measures such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and care of patients remain central to the response, as well as preventing infection through hand washing, physical distancing and wearing of masks.

The organisation added that about 7.7 million tests had been performed in Africa since February.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has warned Muslims against sharing prayer mats or ablution kettles as they mark this year’s sallah

The NCDC said persons who are 50 years and over should worship at home.

The warning, it says, is to guard against contracting the global pandemic in the course of celebrating the Sallah.

The NCDC, in various tweets via its verified Twitter handle @NCDCgov and text messages urged worshipers to observe Eid prayer in smaller groups.

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