Africa coronavirus infection data fairly reflects real cases, WHO says

Despite a shortage of tests.
Members of local hygiene services wear protective suits and face masks as they prepare to disinfect the street and market to stop the spread of coronavirus disease in Dakar, Senegal March 22, 2020. Image: Reuters

The World Health Organization said data on Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases fairly reflects the underlying trend even though governments are grappling with a shortage of test kits.

The continent had less than 7 000 confirmed results of the disease on Thursday, compared with a global tally of more than 950 000 people since the virus was first detected in China in December. Governments across Africa have closed their borders and placed countries or cities under lockdown to prevent widespread contagion in a region with under-resourced health-care systems.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that has so far recorded more than 1 000 cases.

“We clearly are not seeing 100% of the people who are infected, but I do not think that there are large numbers of people” who have been missed by the detection systems, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told reporters Thursday on a video conference call.

African governments have increased their testing capacity, with the number of testing centres numbering 43 compared with two at the beginning of February, said Moeti.

“We would of course like to encourage a more active approach to testing so that it’s possible to know early,” she said.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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It is the unconfirmed cases that are of concern, and there must be many of them.

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