10 countries account for 80% of COVID-19 cases in Africa –WHO

The World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, says 10 out of 54 countries are currently leading with highest numbers of COVID-19 infections in Africa and accounts for nearly 80 per cent of all the cases.

The WHO listed Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt as countries with the highest cases, noting that COVID-19 has continued to spread in the continent since the virus was first detected on the continent in mid-February 2020.

According to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, “for now Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide.

She said over 215,000 cases have been confirmed so far, with over 5,800 deaths and 98,000 recoveries as of Friday, June 12.

“The pandemic is accelerating – it took 98 days to reach 100, 000 cases and only 19 days to move to 200, 000 cases.

“Ten out of 54 countries are currently driving the rise in numbers, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of all the cases.

“More than 70 per cent of the deaths are taking place in only five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan.

“South Africa is the most affected, accounting for 25% of the continent’s total cases, with the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces reporting a high number of cases and deaths daily,” Moeti said.

The WHO director revealed that over half of the countries in the continent were experiencing COVID-19 community transmission and that in many cases, they are concentrated in capital cities, with cases spreading into the provinces.

“But the pace of the spread is quickening. Swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low but constant vigilance is needed to stop COVID-19 from overwhelming health facilities,” she advised.

Moeti said many countries were quick to make difficult decisions by putting in place lockdowns and key public health measures.

“They put in place key public health measures such as promoting physical distancing, good hand hygiene and testing, tracing of contacts of people with COVID-19 and isolation of cases.

“With the support of WHO and other partners, governments also rapidly started to scale up health workforce and laboratory capacities and to set up points-of-entry screening at airports and border crossings.

“These public health and social measures have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Africa,’’ she said stated. 

Also, she said that in recent weeks, countries began relaxing lockdowns to resume some economic and social activities, noting that the shutdowns have come at a considerable socioeconomic cost.

Moeti observed that “Stay-at-home orders and closing of markets and businesses have taken a heavy toll, particularly on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

“So, the need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods is a key consideration in this response, particularly in Africa.”

According to WHO, easing restrictions should be a controlled process and needs to be coupled with ensuring that widespread testing capacities and mechanisms are in place.

“So, the need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods is a key consideration in this response, particularly in Africa,” it stated.

The UN health agency, further said easing restrictions should be a controlled process that must go alongside ensuring that widespread testing capacities and mechanisms are in place.

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