Only Five countries of Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have the most of covid-19 cases of about 71% in all in Africa says World Health Organisation (WHO) with South Africa accounting for 43% of the continent’s total cases.
WHO has said the number of infections in Africa has so far spiralled above 500,000 even as it is concerned with the growing number of countries experiencing a sharp rise in cases which as claimed 11 959 lives in just five months.
According to the global health body, the total number of deaths have surpassed the 11 308 lives lost in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.
In a statement by WHO, “Cases have more than doubled in 22 countries in the region over the past month. Nearly two-thirds of countries are experiencing community transmission. Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa account for about 71% of COVID-19 cases. South Africa alone accounts for 43% of the continent’s total cases.
It nonetheless pointed out that the growth trend is not uniform across the continent, with some countries recording a steady rise in cases, indicating a protracted pandemic.
Eritrea, Gambia, Mali, Seychelles and Togo are witnessing long doubling times and low growth rates. Seychelles had not experienced a case in nearly two months, but in the past week had dozens of new imported cases, linked to crew members of an international fishing vessel.
There are also some signs of progress as 10 countries have experienced a downward trend over the past month. Although Egypt accounts for 15 percent of cumulative cases, it has seen a decline in the past week, noted WHO.
In the words of WHO Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, “With more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of COVID-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating”.
She noted, “So far the continent has avoided disaster and if countries continue to strengthen key public health measures such as testing, tracing contacts and isolating cases, we can slow down the spread of the virus to a manageable level.”
Eighty-eight per cent of COVID-19 infections are among people aged 60 and below, likely due to Africa’s relatively young population. However, the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 rises with increasing age and the existence of co-morbidities, with the risk of death among patients aged 60 years and above being 10 times higher compared with those below 60.
According to WHO Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, “Communities across the continent have a crucial role to play in controlling the pandemic, especially as countries begin easing lockdowns and opening up their borders.
“As governments continue to implement public health measures, individuals must remain as cautious and vigilant as ever to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Hand washing, mask use, physical distancing and other preventative measures are key to controlling transmission, saving lives, and ensuring that already overwhelmed health systems are not stretched to breaking point.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread, thousands of health workers have also fallen ill. Equipping and protecting health workers is one of the central pillars of the COVID-19 response.
WHO is working to support countries respond to COVID-19 by providing technical guidance, crucial medical equipment and has remotely trained more than 25 000 health workers. WHO has also organized more than 420 shipments of key equipment, including more than 3000 oxygen concentrators, 23 000 GeneXpert diagnostic testing machines and almost 4 million pieces of personal protective equipment for health care workers.