The World Health Organization is “very concerned” about the situation of coronaviruses in Africa and has declared that an epidemic in South Africa could be a disaster for the continent.
Dr Michael Ryan, WHO emergency officer, said South Africa was in the midst of a “very serious event” and this could lead to suffering in other countries.
Africa was not severely affected in the early stages of the pandemic, but cases have started to increase and have now exceeded 579,000. Two weeks ago there had been 356,666 (July 5), a peak of about two-thirds in a fortnight.
Now the WHO says the virus is “accelerating” there and there are fears that many poor countries or non-existent health systems “will simply collapse in the face of major epidemics.
According to the World Health Organization, 579,091 cases were diagnosed in Africa yesterday.
It is the second lowest of all mainland regions – only the western Pacific is lower – but cases are accelerating rapidly, experts say.
The number of coronavirus cases in Africa has jumped since early June and the heads of the World Health Organization are now worried about an “acceleration of the disease” on the continent
Dr Ryan said in a virtual press conference: “I am very concerned right now that we are starting to see an acceleration of the disease in Africa. “
The US region has the most cases of coronavirus, according to WHO daily reports, with 7,376,748 cases as of July 19.
And while Africa still ranks near the bottom, a worsening situation in South Africa is worrying global health leaders.
Over the weekend, the number of people who died there rose to over 5,000 and there were more than 350,000 infections.
And Dr Ryan said what is happening there may be a warning sign of what’s to come for the rest of the continent.
He said: “As South Africa goes through a very, very serious event, I think this is really a marker of what the continent could face if urgent steps are not taken to provide support. additional.
“South Africa can unfortunately be a precursor, it can be a warning for what will happen in the rest of Africa. “
Ryan pointed out that the epidemic in South Africa started earlier than that of several other African countries.
It had first spread to richer areas, but has now moved to poorer and more rural areas, he said.
“Consequently, South Africa is experiencing this acceleration,” he said, stressing however that the acceleration was not faster than elsewhere on the continent.
While South Africa’s figures were by far the largest, they “only” increased 30% last week, he said.
By comparison, the figures in Kenya increased by 31%, Madagascar by 50%, Zambia by 57% and Namibia by 69%, he said.
“I think we are starting to see continued acceleration of transmission in a number of countries,” he said.
“It’s not just a wake up call for South Africa … We have to take what’s going on in Africa very, very seriously. “
South Africa now has the fifth highest number of coronavirus cases of any country in the world, and its Minister of Health said today that everyone should get health care if they need it.
Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters that “there will never be pressure on a hospital” and said the number of beds will increase and private hospitals will help.
He visited a new field hospital in Johannesburg intended to accommodate patients requiring less intensive care. There are already 150 people in isolation, nine in quarantine and 20 on oxygen, the Gauteng province health department said.