Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection
- Nearly two years since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which has caused over 5 million deaths, the world continues to be on high COVID-19 alert. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with national authorities, public health institutions and scientists have been closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020 (WHO 2021a; WHO 2021b). The emergence of specific SARS-CoV-2 variants were characterised as Variant of Interest (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC), to prioritise global monitoring and research, and to inform the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO and its international sequencing networks continuously monitor SARS-CoV-2 mutations and inform countries about any changes that may be needed to respond to the variant, and prevent its spread where feasible.
- The WHO declared COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and later a pandemic on 11 March 2020 (WHO, 2020a). As of 28 September 2020, there were 32.7 million COVID-19 cases with 991,000 deaths worldwide reported to the WHO (2020b). All African countries have been affected and have reported a total of 1,172,342 COVID-19 cases, including 25,481 deaths (WHO, 2020b). As the global COVID-19 events unfolded, and Africa’s first COVID-19 case was reported from Egypt on 14 February 2020, many African countries prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 (Kapata et al., 2020).
- The unprecedented global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly spread to all continents (WHO, 2020a). Whilst spread to Africa has been slow, there are now increasing numbers of COVID-19 being reported from African countries who are preparing themselves (Kapata et al., 2020) for an exponential rise in numbers of cases. As of 26th April 2020, there have been 2,804,796 confirmed COVIDD-19 cases reported to the WHO with 193,710 deaths. In Africa there have been 20,316 cases with 839 deaths reported from 49 countries (WHO, 2020b).
- The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has made national governments worldwide to mandate several generic infection control measures such as physical distancing, self-isolation, and closure of non-essential shops, restaurants schools, among others. Some models suggest physical distancing would have to persist for 3 months to mitigate the peak effects on health systems and could be required on an intermittent basis for 12 to 18 months (Flaxman et al., 2020).
- Soon after the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV), was first identified in a cluster of patients with pneumonia (Li et al., 2020), in the Chinese city of Wuhan on 31 December 2019, rapid human to human transmission was anticipated (Hui et al., 2020). The fast pace of transmission is wreaking havoc and stirring media hype and public health concern (Ippolito et al., 2020) globally. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease, (now officially named COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 31st January 2020 (WHO, 2020a), the Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus justified the decision by stating that WHOs greatest concern was the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems.