44 countries in Africa can now test for COVID-19, WHO says

Coronavirus testing

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 44 countries in Africa can now test for COVID-19.

The UN’s health agency disclosed this on Friday in its official twitter account @WHOAFRO.

The WHO said at the start of the outbreak only two could do so.

“As COVID-19 spreads beyond capital cities in Africa, there must also be a response at the grassroots level.

“A wide network of community polio health workers in Nigeria are using their expertise and technology to support COVID-19 surveillance,’’ it added.

According to the agency, the number of COVID-19 cases on the African continent has increased to 18,000 with over 900 deaths.

The breakdown on the WHO African Region COVID-19 dashboard, showed that South Africa, Algeria and Cameroon had continued to top the list of countries with the highest reported cases.

South Africa has 2,605 cases and 48 deaths followed by Algeria with 2,268 cases and 348 deaths, while Cameroon has 855 confirmed cases with 17 deaths.

According to the dashboard, South Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Burundi and Mauritania still remain countries with lowest confirmed cases in the region.

It showed that South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe were the lowest confirmed cases, which had four cases each with zero death.

Burundi was second country with lowest confirmed cases with five reported cases and zero death.

Mauritania in the third category with lowest cases as the country had recorded seven confirmed cases with one death.

Also, the dashboard showed that COVID-19 cases had risen to 373 confirmed cases with 11 deaths in Nigeria.

“Also, the COVID-19 Situation Report showed  the number of cases in WHO African Region had  increased by 51 per cent and the number of deaths by 60 per cent.

“As of 14 April 2020 (epidemiological week 16) a cumulative total of 10, 759 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 520 deaths (Case Fatality Ratio (CFR): 4.8 per cent) have been reported across the 45 affected countries in the region,’’ it said.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a new milestone in the region, with over 10, 000 cases and over 500 deaths being reported across all Member States with the exception of Comoros and Lesotho.

Six countries (Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and South Africa) accounted for two thirds of the cases in the region.

In Algeria, although a decrease in case incidence was observed in the past two weeks, the high case fatality ratio is of grave concern.

“There is a need to strengthen case management and conduct in-depth epidemiological analyses to better understand the risk factors associated with these deaths.

“The upsurge of cases in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana requires particular attention.

“Current response measures in these countries need to be reinforced in order to rapidly contain the spread of the outbreak.

“Although the weekly incidence rate appears to have substantially slowed down over the past two weeks, the situation remains critical.

“National authorities need to stay alert and continue to implement proven public health measures such as  active case finding, testing and isolation of cases, contact tracing, physical distancing and promotion of good personal hygiene practice,’’ it stated.