The World Health Organization warns that the data on COVID-19 on the African continent may not “paint the full picture” of the pandemic’s public health impact
While Africa has been spared the COVID-19 crises seen in nations like the United States, China, Russia and Brazil, it is likely that cases are missed as the continent continues to ramp up its response, including testing capacities.
That’s according to WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who urged caution while noting that Africans have just 1.5 percent of the world’s coronavirus cases in their nations and less than 0.1 percent of the world’s deaths.
“Africa appears to have so far been spared the scale of outbreaks we have seen in other regions,” said Tedros during remarks focused on Africa Day, and the continent’s muted celebrations because of COVID-19.
“Although around half of the countries in the region have community transmission, concentrated mainly in major cities, Africa is the least-affected region globally in terms of the number of cases and deaths reported to WHO,” he said.
Africans have benefited from lessons learned during polio, measles, Ebola and other disease outbreaks, but there are still many challenges. Just 19 percent of countries in the region have an infection prevention and control program, WHO said, along with appropriate standards for water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.
“Disruption to essential health services, such as vaccination campaigns and care for malaria, HIV and other diseases pose a huge risk,” Tedros added.