In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China, to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, as there was a high risk of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world. To date more than 191,127 cases are confirmed in more than 150 countries, more than 7,000 people have died from the disease, but 84,000 have also already recovered since the outbreak started. The EAC region did not stay unaffected and has to date confirmed cases in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Most infected people developed only mild symptoms and the average global death rate of about 4 % is low compared to that of other infectious diseases which we are facing in the region, such as HIV/AIDS, Measles or Ebola. Most affected by the pandemic is less the health sector, but the economy as a whole, including trade and tourism, as main life-lines in the region.
To succeed in combating the pandemic, all sections of our society including employers and businesses – must play a role and work together. The virus that causes the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that had not been identified in humans until the outbreak of the disease in 2019.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that are common in animals and cause illness in humans ranging from a mild cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Other known coronaviruses are circulating in animals without causing illness in humans.
The COVID-19 outbreak has taken its toll on many countries worldwide and has caused huge economic losses with various sectors affected and impacted upon.