Coronavirus: pandemic accelerates in Africa, WHO issues alert

In many African countries, the time has come to cut back on measures to combat Covid-19 in order to resume certain economic and social activities. This is completely normal, given that the African continent accounts for only 3% of the cases of Covid-19 contamination recorded in the world. But the speed at which the number of confirmed cases has doubled in the past 20 days shows the acceleration of the spread of the virus, warned, Thursday, June 11, the World Health Organization (WHO).

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The milestone of 200,000 cases crossed

“It took 98 days to reach the 100,000 mark and only 18 to cross the 200,000 mark,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, at a press briefing by video at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “Even if these cases recorded in Africa represent less than 3% of the world total, it is clear that the pandemic is accelerating” on the continent, she said. According to her, “the rapid and early action of African countries has helped to keep the figures low, but constant vigilance is necessary to prevent Covid-19 from overwhelming healthcare establishments,” she said. indicated.

To date, Africa has 210,519 contaminations with the new coronavirus, including 5,635 deaths. Worldwide, the new coronavirus has infected nearly 7.4 million people and killed at least 416,000 since the outbreak of the epidemic in China in December.

In Africa, “the pandemic remains concentrated in and around the capitals, but we are seeing more and more cases in the provinces” continued Dr Moeti, who believes that the virus has entered most of the continent’s countries through capitals, via international flights. “Ten of the 54 African countries” account for 80% of the cases, and South Africa alone 25% of them, she also underlined. Over 70% of deaths are recorded in just five countries: South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.

If it is possible that some asymptomatic or mild cases go under the radar, WHO Africa does not believe that a significant number of serious cases or deaths are not counted in Africa, according to the Dr Moeti.

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Vigilance remains essential

The relative youth of the African population compared to those of other continents and the experience acquired in the management of other epidemics were cited among the reasons explaining the death rate in Africa, lower than that of other continents. Early measures in some African countries have kept the balance sheets low, but constant vigilance remains essential, according to the Dr Moeti.

“Before we have access to an effective vaccine, I fear that we will have to live with a constant rise in the region, with outbreaks to manage in many countries, as is currently the case in South Africa, in Algeria , and in Cameroon, which require very strong public health measures, ”she continued. “We sincerely hope that we will not see overwhelmed health systems,” she concluded.

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