COVID-19 outbreak in Mauritania: epidemiology and health system response
Keywords:COVID-19, epidemiology, health system response, Mauritania, Africa
Introduction: In Africa, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in February 2020. Mauritania’s first case was confirmed in March 2020.
Methodology: We provide an update of the COVID-19 epidemic in Mauritania as of December 2020, and describe the country’s Health System Response.
Results: In total, 133,749 diagnostic tests were performed, 14,364 (10.7%) were positive (309 cases/100,000 inhabitants). Case fatality rate was 2.4%. The 20-39 year-olds (41%) and males (59.1%) were most commonly affected. Comorbidities among fatal cases included cardiovascular diseases (44.8%) and diabetes (37.1%). Clinical symptoms included fever (57%), cough (52%), running nose (47%) and headache (26%). After the first case, prevention measures were progressively tightened, and quarantine implemented for all suspected cases. Schools and universities were closed, and flights to Mauritania suspended. Restaurants and cafeterias were closed, and night curfews installed. Friday prayers were suspended nationwide, and movements between regions restricted. These measures helped to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 during the first pandemic wave, which peaked in June 2020 with low rates. However, the number of daily cases reached high levels in December 2020, during the second wave (40.1% of all cases and 48.9% of deaths). During the first wave, there were 38 ICU beds nationwide, but the ICU’s capacity increased in short time.
Conclusions: Mauritania has passed through the first pandemic wave with relatively low case fatality rates, currently being at the end of the second wave. As the country’s health system is very vulnerable, there is a need for strict public health measures during epidemics.
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