Global report: WHO warns of accelerating Covid-19 infections in Africa
The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in Africa, after the continent hit 200,000 cases earlier this week.
Speaking at a video briefing hosted by the UN press association in Geneva on Thursday, Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said, “It took 98 days to reach the first 100,000 cases, and only 18 days to move to 200,000 cases.” Africa has so far recorded 5,635 deaths.
“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3% of the global total, it’s clear that the pandemic is accelerating.”
South Africa is the worst-affected country on the continent, with more than a quarter of all infections. But most countries have fewer than 1,000 infections, said Moeti, and the UN does not believe that severe cases are going undetected.
Africa has recorded fewer than 6,000 deaths, according to an AFP tally, but just five countries account for 70% of these: South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.
In Africa, “the pandemic is still concentrated in and around capital cities but we are seeing more and more cases spread out into the provinces,” Moeti said.
She said that in most countries on the continent, the virus entered capitals through international flights from Europe.
Africa’s relatively young population compared to other continents, and in-built experience of dealing with disease outbreaks have been cited as reasons why Africa has not so far seen the death rates experienced on other continents.
Moeti said early action by African countries had helped keep the numbers low – but constant vigilance was still needed.
The US remains the worst-affected country worldwide, passing 2 million infections on Thursday. Spikes have been recorded in several states, including Arizona, which is confirming more than 1,000 cases daily.
US president Donald Trump has introduced a policy stopping attendees at his rallies from suing the campaign or venue if they contract coronavirus at the events. A statement on the campaign website page for a rally in Tulsa says: “By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates … liable for any illness or injury.”