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This study describes risk factors associated with mortality among COVID-19 cases reported in the WHO African region between 21 March and 31 October 2020. Average hazard ratios of death were calculated using weighted Cox regression as well as median time to death for key risk factors. We included 46 870 confirmed cases reported by eight Member States in the region. The overall incidence was 20.06 per 100 000, with a total of 803 deaths and a total observation time of 3 959 874 person-days. Male sex (aHR 1.54 (95% CI 1.31–1.81); P < 0.001), older age (aHR 1.08 (95% CI 1.07–1.08); P < 0.001), persons who lived in a capital city (aHR 1.42 (95% CI 1.22–1.65); P < 0.001) and those with one or more comorbidity (aHR 36.37 (95% CI 20.26–65.27); P < 0.001) had a higher hazard of death. Being a healthcare worker reduced the average hazard of death by 40% (aHR 0.59 (95% CI 0.37–0.93); P = 0.024). Time to death was significantly less for persons ≥60 years (P = 0.038) and persons residing in capital cities (P < 0.001). The African region has COVID-19-related mortality similar to that of other regions, and is likely underestimated. Similar risk factors contribute to COVID-19-associated mortality as identified in other regions.
The World Health Organization African region recorded its first laboratory-confirmed coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) cases on 25 February 2020. Two months later, all the 47 countries of the region were affected. The first anniversary of the pandemic occurred in a changed context with the emergence of new variants of concern (VOC) and growing COVID-19 fatigue. This study describes the epidemiological trajectory of COVID-19 in the region, summarises public health and social measures (PHSM) implemented and discusses their impact on the pandemic trajectory. As of 24 February 2021, the African region accounted for 2.5% of cases and 2.9% of deaths reported globally. Of the 13 countries that submitted detailed line listing of cases, the proportion of cases with at least one co-morbid condition was estimated at 3.3% of all cases. Hypertension, diabetes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were the most common comorbid conditions, accounting for 11.1%, 7.1% and 5.0% of cases with comorbidities, respectively. Overall, the case fatality ratio (CFR) in patients with comorbid conditions was higher than in patients without comorbid conditions: 5.5% vs. 1.0% (P < 0.0001). Countries started to implement lockdown measures in early March 2020. This contributed to slow the spread of the pandemic at the early stage while the gradual ease of lockdowns from 20 April 2020 resulted in an upsurge. The second wave of the pandemic, which started in November 2020, coincided with the emergence of the new variants of concern. Only 0.08% of the population from six countries received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is critical to not only learn from the past 12 months to improve the effectiveness of the current response but also to start preparing the health systems for subsequent waves of the current pandemic and future pandemics.
As of 03 January 2021, the WHO African region is the least affected by the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, accounting for only 2.4% of cases and deaths reported globally. However, concerns abound about whether the number of cases and deaths reported from the region reflect the true burden of the disease and how the monitoring of the pandemic trajectory can inform response measures.
We retrospectively estimated four key epidemiological parameters (the total number of cases, the number of missed cases, the detection rate and the cumulative incidence) using the COVID-19 prevalence calculator tool developed by Resolve to Save Lives. We used cumulative cases and deaths reported during the period 25 February to 31 December 2020 for each WHO Member State in the region as well as population data to estimate the four parameters of interest. The estimated number of confirmed cases in 42 countries out of 47 of the WHO African region included in this study was 13 947 631 [95% confidence interval (CI): 13 334 620–14 635 502] against 1 889 512 cases reported, representing 13.5% of overall detection rate (range: 4.2% in Chad, 43.9% in Guinea). The cumulative incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) was estimated at 1.38% (95% CI: 1.31%–1.44%), with South Africa the highest [14.5% (95% CI: 13.9%–15.2%)] and Mauritius [0.1% (95% CI: 0.099%–0.11%)] the lowest. The low detection rate found in most countries of the WHO African region suggests the need to strengthen SARS-CoV-2 testing capacities and adjusting testing strategies.
Experience gained from responding to major outbreaks may have influenced the early coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response in several countries across Africa. We retrospectively assessed whether Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three West African countries at the epicentre of the 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak, leveraged the lessons learned in responding to COVID-19 following the World Health Organization's (WHO) declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). We found relatively lower incidence rates across the three countries compared to many parts of the globe. Time to case reporting and laboratory confirmation also varied, with Guinea and Liberia reporting significant delays compared to Sierra Leone. Most of the selected readiness measures were instituted before confirmation of the first case and response measures were initiated rapidly after the outbreak confirmation. We conclude that the rapid readiness and response measures instituted by the three countries can be attributed to their lessons learned from the devastating Ebola outbreak, although persistent health systems weaknesses and the unique nature of COVID-19 continue to challenge control efforts.
Epidemic intelligence activities are undertaken by the WHO Regional Office for Africa to support member states in early detection and response to outbreaks to prevent the international spread of diseases. We reviewed epidemic intelligence activities conducted by the organisation from 2017 to 2020, processes used, key results and how lessons learned can be used to strengthen preparedness, early detection and rapid response to outbreaks that may constitute a public health event of international concern. A total of 415 outbreaks were detected and notified to WHO, using both indicator-based and event-based surveillance. Media monitoring contributed to the initial detection of a quarter of all events reported. The most frequent outbreaks detected were vaccine-preventable diseases, followed by food-and-water-borne diseases, vector-borne diseases and viral haemorrhagic fevers. Rapid risk assessments generated evidence and provided the basis for WHO to trigger operational processes to provide rapid support to member states to respond to outbreaks with a potential for international spread. This is crucial in assisting member states in their obligations under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005). Member states in the region require scaled-up support, particularly in preventing recurrent outbreaks of infectious diseases and enhancing their event-based surveillance capacities with automated tools and processes.
Successive waves of COVID-19 transmission have led to exponential increases in new infections globally. In this study, we have applied a decision-making tool to assess the risk of continuing transmission to inform decisions on tailored public health and social measures (PHSM) using data on cases and deaths reported by Member States to the WHO Regional Office for Africa as of 31 December 2020. Transmission classification and health system capacity were used to assess the risk level of each country to guide implementation and adjustments to PHSM. Two countries out of 46 assessed met the criteria for sporadic transmission, one for clusters of cases, and 43 (93.5%) for community transmission (CT) including three with uncontrolled disease incidence (Eswatini, Namibia and South Africa). Health system response's capacities were assessed as adequate in two countries (4.3%), moderate in 13 countries (28.3%) and limited in 31 countries (64.4%). The risk level, calculated as a combination of transmission classification and health system response's capacities, was assessed at level 0 in one country (2.1%), level 1 in two countries (4.3%), level 2 in 11 countries (23.9%) and level 3 in 32 (69.6%) countries. The scale of severity ranged from 0 to 4, with 0 the lowest. CT coupled with limited response capacity resulted in a level 3 risk assessment in most countries. Countries at level 3 should be considered as priority focus for additional assistance, in order to prevent the risk rising to level 4, which may necessitate enforcing hard and costly lockdown measures. The large number of countries at level 3 indicates the need for an effective risk management system to be used as a basis for adjusting PHSM at national and sub-national levels.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is an essential component of public health emergency response. In the WHO African region (WHO AFRO), over 100 events are detected and responded to annually. Here we discuss the development of the M&E for COVID-19 that established a set of regional and country indicators for tracking the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures. An interdisciplinary task force used the 11 pillars of strategic preparedness and response to define a set of inputs, outputs, outcomes and impact indicators that were used to closely monitor and evaluate progress in the evolving COVID-19 response, with each pillar tailored to specific country needs. M&E data were submitted electronically and informed country profiles, detailed epidemiological reports, and situation reports. Further, 10 selected key performance indicators were tracked to monitor country progress through a bi-weekly progress scoring tool used to identify priority countries in need of additional support from WHO AFRO. Investment in M&E of health emergencies should be an integral part of efforts to strengthen national, regional and global capacities for early detection and response to threats to public health security. The development of an adaptable M&E framework for health emergencies must draw from the lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 response.
To study both surgical and nonsurgical nosocomial infections (NIs) seen by primary-care physicians (general practitioners [GPs]) in France.
Ongoing surveillance of postdischarge NIs by an organized group of GPs, from August 1997 to July 1999. Both the GP who personally examined the case spontaneously presenting with NI and the responsible hospital physician or surgeon were interviewed by telephone.
305 general practices from all French regions.
2,199 (29%) of 7,540 patients referred for hospitalization reconsulted the GP within 30 days of discharge. In 21 (1%) of the 2,199 cases, an NI was diagnosed by the GP and confirmed as plausible by the responsible hospital physician. We diagnosed an NI in 8 (1.3%) of the post-surgical patients and in 13 (0.8%) of the non-surgical cases within the cohort We saw eight urinary tract infections, seven surgical-site infections, three soft-tissue infections, two respiratory tract infections, and one primary bloodstream infection. In 19 patients (90%), clinical signs of NI appeared within 7 days of discharge. Assuming that all 5,431 patients who were missed for follow-up did not experience any NI, an attack rate of 0.3 per 100 admissions may be estimated for the whole group.
We diagnosed 1% of NIs following discharge from a hospital in a cohort of 2,199 patients, of which 1.3% were seen post-surgery and 0.8% following nonsurgical admissions. The percentage of postdischarge visits that were for an NI in nonsurgical patients warrants a major effort with feedback to the hospital physician to reduce infection rates.
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