Ninety-eight days. This is the time it has taken for confirmed coronavirus infections to reach 100,000 in Africa. But when it comes to those cases that doubled to 200,000, it only took 18 days.
The figures were quoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday as it warned that the coronavirus pandemic on the continent “is accelerating”, the virus spreading in rural areas after international travelers l have brought to big cities.
“Even if these cases in Africa represent less than 3% of the world total, it is clear that the pandemic is accelerating,” said WHO chief Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, during a press briefing. .
Moeti said community transmission has started in more than half of the 54 African countries, calling it “a serious sign”.
To date, more than 5,500 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed across the continent.
While the virus, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December of last year, has swept the world, many experts have warned of a possible disastrous effect on African countries, which contain many of the world’s poorest countries, and weak health infrastructure. and millions of people displaced by the conflict.
However, this forecast has yet to be confirmed, with other parts of the world becoming the epicenters of the pandemic. WHO said there is currently no indication that a large number of serious cases and deaths are missing from Africa’s overall count, and that the virus has not caused infections either. important in refugee camps.
Some have attributed the most moderate epidemic to the continent’s relatively young population and to the fact that many countries have taken rapid “point of entry” testing following the Ebola epidemic in Africa. West and Center.
Moeti said the lower number of international travelers arriving to spread the virus, the rapid responses of African leaders and the weather could also have played a role in mitigating the blow.
Ten countries are the source of most infections
Ten countries are currently behind the epidemic in Africa, accounting for 75 percent of the estimated 207,600 cases confirmed to date, said Moeti.
In South Africa, the most affected country on the continent with more than 58,500 infections and some 1,200 deaths, a high number of cases and daily deaths are reported in two provinces – the more densely populated Western Cape, where Cape Town, and the more sparse Eastern Cape.
“Specifically in Western Cape, where we see the majority of cases and deaths, the trend appears to be similar to what was happening in Europe and the United States,” said Moeti.
Shortage of test kits remains a challenge on the continent, Moeti added, and until there is an effective vaccine, Africa should see a steady increase with hotspots requiring strong public health measures and social distancing.
Report from Abuja, Nigeria, the third most affected country on the continent after South Africa and Egypt, Ahmed Jris Al Jazeera said that a lagging health care system and fighting with armed groups in the north make the situation particularly precarious.
“Two days ago, Nigeria recorded its highest number of infections with more than 600 cases, now bringing the total to more than 14,000 cases,” he said. “But it is difficult to know exactly how many people have the virus in this country, since the screening capacity of many hospitals and clinics is still very low. ”
“You also have insurgency problems in the north of the country. You have millions of people displaced by the conflict, be it Boko Haram, ethnic fighting, community fighting, clashes between farmers and cattle herders in the rest of the country, “he said.
In Dakar, Senegal, which confirmed more than 4,700 cases and 55 deaths, Nicolas Haque of Al Jazeera added that fears have increased as the government prepares to reopen the country.
“There is a real concern that the worst is yet to come, as the government has decided to relax the restrictions allowing people to mingle with each other,” he said.