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.
- All countries where malaria is endemic have reported COVID-19 cases. The WHO African Region has experienced >1.5 million cases of COVID-19 (WHO, 2020a) and bears 90% of the global malaria burden. Significant efforts have led to a substantial reduction in malaria deaths in the last decade (WHO, 2019a) and enduring sustainability of malaria interventions and control programs is essential. As signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and malaria partly overlap, diagnostic guidance is inevitable in malaria-endemic settings.
- With the first cases reported on March 14, 2020 (Ntoumi and Velavan, 2020), the Republic of Congo reported a total of 7794 cases with 117 deaths as of January 25, 2021, with transmission driven by the community (WHO, 2021).
- The occurrence of asymptomatic individuals with coronaviruses presents a significant public health issue (Nikolai et al., 2020). As of December 15, 2020, there had been more than 73,557,491 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections world-wide and 1,637,053 deaths (University JH, 2020). The United States had the highest number of infections in the world, with 16,724,753 cases and 303,849 deaths. In Africa, South Africa had the highest number of cases (873,678) and deaths (23,661). The Republic of the Congo, with an estimated population of 5,300,000, had recorded 6200 cases and 100 deaths, as of December 12, 2020 (SITREP 115, Congo).
- 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).
- Dr Li Wenliang, who lost his life to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, became the face of the threat of SARS-CoV-2 to frontline workers, the clinicians taking care of patients. Li, 34, was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. On 30th December, 2019, when the Wuhan municipal health service sent out an alert, he reportedly warned a closed group of ex-medical school classmates on the WeChat social media site of “Seven cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) like illness with links with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market” at his hospital.
- 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.
- The city of Wuhan in China is the focus of global attention due to an outbreak of a febrile respiratory illness due to a coronavirus 2019-nCoV. In December 2019, there was an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, Hubei province in China, with an epidemiological link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where there was also sale of live animals. Notification of the WHO on 31 Dec 2019 by the Chinese Health Authorities has prompted health authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to step up border surveillance, and generated concern and fears that it could mark the emergence of a novel and serious threat to public health (WHO, 2020a; Parr, 2020).