20 March 2020

Rising cases of COVID-19 in Africa as WHO advises countries to ‘prepare for the worst’ 

WaterAid CEO, Tim Wainwright, and handwashing and hygiene experts are available for interview. 
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid said:
“We’re all living through a deeply worrying time. The World Health Organization has now warned Africa to prepare for the worst as COVID-19 cases rise. Not only do many of the African countries reporting cases have painfully fragile health systems, but millions of people don't have anywhere to wash their hands – making it both alarmingly easy for the virus to spread and harder to treat. 
“For example in Ethiopia, which has seen the number of detected cases rise this week, nearly half of healthcare facilities have no facilities for staff or patients to wash their hands at the point of care. This makes it almost impossible to create a hygienic environment, particularly when tackling a highly infectious disease. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about three quarters of people also have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and water in their homes and knowledge of how and why to wash hands properly is not widespread.
“WaterAid, along with many others in the sector, are urgently scaling up activity to make sure that everyone in the countries where we work is aware of how vital good handwashing is. We are also working with governments to put handwashing facilities in public places like bus stations and markets to help make sure that many more people can protect themselves, their families and communities from this devastating virus.”