The coronavirus pandemic is acceleration in Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned during a video briefing hosted by the UN Press Association in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday 11 June.
“It took 98 days to reach the first 100 000 cases and only 18 days to move to 200 000 cases,” Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, explained.
African COVID-19 statistics as at 08:30 GMT on 13 June indicate that the continent now has 225 126 confirmed cases, 116 163 active cases and 6 051 deaths. According to tally done by the AFP news agency, just five countries account for 70% of these deaths. They are: South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.
Virus is moving out into the provinces
“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3% of the global total, it’s clear that the pandemic is accelerating,” Moeti said. “The pandemic is still concentrated in and around capital cities, but we are seeing more and more cases spread out into the provinces.”
South Africa is the hardest-hit country and has more than a quarter of all Africa’s infections. Most countries have less than 1 000 infections and Moeti noted that, while it was possible that some asymptomatic and mild cases were going undetected, the UN does not believe severe cases are going unnoticed.
Deaths kept low by a relatively young population
Africa’s relatively young population and its experience of dealing with disease outbreaks have been mentioned 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 if this was to continue to be the case.
She predicted a steady increase in infections and said hot spots in places such as South Africa, Algeria and Cameroon needed to be managed quickly through strong public health measures.