By Adedapo Adesanya
Under latest projections by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the COVID-19 could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa and infect as much as 44 million in the first year if it is not properly contained.
The latest grim reports are contained in a new WHO Africa study based on assumptions that no containment measures are put in place.
But the Head of WHO Africa, Mrs Matshidiso Moeti, in a teleconference held on Thursday, said fortunately, this has not been the case.
According to her, most countries on the continent have imposed restrictions on public gatherings, international travel and curfews among other measures meant to curb the spread of the virus.
The virus hit Africa later than other continents and transmission rates are lower than elsewhere. Still, this could translate into a prolonged, years-long outbreak, WHO said.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region.
“We need to test, trace, isolate and treat,” Mrs Moeti said.
The organisation warned that small countries, as well as Algeria, South Africa and Cameroon, could be severely affected.
Notably, the WHO Africa study covered only the 47 countries that belong to the WHO Africa region and not the entire continent. The body’s regional definition excludes Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.
Under the projected no-containment scenario, “there would be an estimated 3.6 million–5.5 million COVID-19 hospitalisations, of which 82,000–167,000 would be severe cases requiring oxygen, and 52,000–107,000 would be critical cases requiring breathing support.”
But according to Reuters, Africa has less than one intensive care bed and one ventilator per 100,000 people and this could further prove to be disastrous in the long run if cases continue to escalate.
In Nigeria, nearly 4,000 persons have been infected with the virus since the index case was reported on February 27, 2020, while over 70 deaths have been recorded.
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