Africa has reached 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but health experts believe the real figure could be much higher.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the large number of new cases a “pivotal moment” and is urging countries to respond by decentralizing their coronavirus response services, as the virus accelerates in rural areas.
“We need to reverse this trend so that countries can calibrate their response, ensuring it is the most effective, and as cases move to the hinterland, testing needs to be decentralized from capitals. . ” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said Thursday.
South Africa is currently reporting just over half of all reported cases in Africa with 538,184 confirmed cases and just over 9,600 deaths.
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South Africa is fifth in the world for the number of confirmed infections, behind the United States with 4.8 million cases, Brazil with 2.8 million cases, India with nearly 2 million cases and Russia with more than 870,000 confirmed cases, but they are 15th in the world. of death rates, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
But a report released late last month by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) shows that there are large discrepancies in the number of reported coronavirus-related deaths.
“The numbers showed a relentless increase – as of the second week of July, there were 59 percent more deaths from natural causes than expected,” the SAMRC report said, comparing data from the past two years.
While some officials have said the rise in “excess deaths” could be due to pooling of resources to fight the coronavirus, other diseases like HIV and tuberculosis could be outsourced.
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South Africa is the most developed country on the continent with the most efficient medical care and testing capabilities, and health experts are concerned about the extent of subtesting in Africa.
“The lack of testing leads to underreporting of COVID-19 cases and prevents us from understanding the full picture of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” Moeti said.
The WHO Africa division announced that new cases had increased by more than 20% in 16 African countries, and 10 countries accounted for 89% of new cases reported across the continent in the past two weeks.
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WHO and several United Nations agencies have formed a global consortium to focus on procuring test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) in 47 countries in Africa.
Even though testing remains weak, Africa saw a 40% increase in testing in July, and 41 million items of PPE are being shipped from China, according to Moeti.