'Unity in purpose': Ramaphosa praises continent's Covid-19 approach on Africa Day
The African continent has been punching above its weight in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This is according to SA President Cyril Ramaphosa, who dedicated his weekly newsletter to celebrate Africa Day.
Ramaphosa, who is chairperson of the AU, said that despite lack of financial resources and other challenges, Africa had done well in responding to Covid-19 because of a response strategy centred on unity in purpose.
“We mark Africa Day this year just over three months since the first case of coronavirus on the continent was confirmed. This pandemic has been a stark reminder that regardless of whether we are born into wealth or indigence, we are all mortal and can succumb to disease,” wrote Ramaphosa.
“As countries around the world battle to turn the tide against the pandemic, Africa has taken firm control of its destiny by developing a clear strategy and raising financial resources from its member states.
“The African response to the coronavirus pandemic has received widespread praise. Despite the multitude of resource challenges they face, African countries have come together in remarkable ways, united by a common purpose.”
Ramaphosa said the continent had historically displayed capability in dealing with pandemics because several previous outbreaks, including Ebola, have hit Africa harder than any other continent.
It was this experience that has helped Africa to be able to contain Covid-19 better than most of the world, against earlier expectations that the continent was going to be the epicentre.
Ramaphosa said: “African countries have been able to use their experience in managing outbreaks of malaria, cholera, HIV, TB and haemorrhagic viruses like Ebola and Lassa. Our understanding of communicable diseases and how to manage them has put us in good stead when it comes to coronavirus.
“African governments have been swift and proactive in implementing measures to flatten the coronavirus curve.
“By early May, 43 African countries had full border closures, 53 had closed institutions of learning, 54 had limited public gatherings, 26 had instituted the compulsory use of face masks, 32 had instituted night-time curfews and 18 had imposed nationwide lockdowns.
“The AU developed a comprehensive joint continental strategy to guide co-operation between member states and set up a Covid-19 response fund. A number of countries, including South Africa, have rolled out massive food relief and social assistance measures to support the vulnerable,” he went on.
“Wherever you may be at this time, I wish you a happy Africa Day.”