COVID-19 in Africa: marking six months of response

Communities, health workers, governments rally to combat the COVID-19 pandemic 

COVID-19 in Africa: marking six months of response

On 14 February 2020, Africa confirmed its first COVID-19 case in Egypt. Since then, more than 1 million cases have been reported and every country on the continent has been affected. African governments were quick to adopt public health measures in line with WHO guidelines and instituted other restrictions such as  lockdowns and curfews. While most countries have been spared the exponential growth witnessed in other regions, these measures have come at a heavy social and economic cost and as countries have started to open their borders, some have started to see cases rise.

WHO is coordinating the regional response, providing advice on critical preparedness, readiness and response measures for COVID-19 as well as diagnostics, surveillance, treatment and community engagement.

Heroes of the COVID-19 response

WHO/Kadijah Diallo

Dr Benbetka Chahrazed
Virologist, Algeria

“We have very stringent rules. We strictly follow them while using the personal protective equipment or handling samples, making sure we don't put ourselves at risk. Without the protective equipment, we wouldn't be able to do our job.”

WHO/Otto Bakano

Adamu Tayachew
Researcher, laboratory technician, Ethiopia

“Our workload has greatly increased. I have spent many nights here to help make the laboratory capable of detecting COVID-19. We spent many hours communicating partners to obtain reagents, supplies and equipment.”

WHO/John Kisimir

Julius Oloiboni
Community leader, Kenya

“The situation has changed a lot. The virus is everywhere. We are shocked that the numbers keep increasing. We are shocked that there are people disregarding government guidelines. But my family and community have not changed how we started with precautions. We continue to wash hands and wear masks all the time. We also stopped going to church because it will bring in many people. So far, no one here has been affected and we continue to pray and do what we can to stay safe.”

WHO/Eromosele Ogbeide

Tsaimu Juliana
Nurse, Nigeria

“I am passionate about my job. When COVID-19 outbreak was reported in Nigeria, I saw an opportunity to support the fight by offering services, outside my primary assignment. Today, when I look at how patients under my care recover from the disease, it gives me immense joy. When you see them being discharged that makes me even happier because the joy of every health personnel is to see his or her patient recover and discharged in good health.”

Response areas


Essential services

Countries are stepping up the delivery of essential health services. However, more efforts are needed to ensure essential services are maintained alongside COVID-19 response.

Read more

Infection Prevention and Control

Along with partners, WHO has trained about 100 000 health workers through online sessions and directly in the field and assessed 4169 health facilities to ensure they meet WHO standards.

Read more

Operational Support and Logistics

WHO, in collaboration with other United Nations agencies and partners, have delivered essential medical supplies and is helping countries consolidate procurement and shipment of equipment.

Read more


Countries have improved their capacity to respond to COVID-19. But it is important that governments step up readiness and response measures, particularly at the subnational levels.

Read more

Risk communication

Partnering with United Nations agencies, NGOs and other organizations, WHO is coordinating risk communications and community engagement in countries.

Read more


WHO has supported the rollout of outbreak data management tools in 26 countries, conducted online trainings and provided technical guidance to bolster COVID-19 surveillance and detection.

Read more


Countries have ramped up testing capacities. All the 47 countries in WHO African Region can diagnose the virus and more than 7 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been performed so far.

Read more


WHO has trained doctors and nurses on care for COVID-19 patients, including the critically ill, especially in smaller countries with limited workforce.

Read more


8 Ways Africa's COVID-19 Response is Moving Forward
13 August 2020
The faces of Africa's COVID-19 response
5 June 2020