Covid-19 ‘taking different path in Africa’, says WHO
The 54 countries of the African Union were reporting a total of 103,933 cases of coronavirus on Saturday morning, according the Africa Centres for Disease Control.
So far African nations have reported 3,183 deaths from Covid-19, and 41,473 people have recovered since the virus was first detected on the continent 14 weeks ago.
There had been apocalyptic forecasts for the potential impact of the pandemic in Africa. On Friday evening, after the 100,000th case was reached, the World Health Organization’s Africa office circulated a note saying that it now seemed clear that the pandemic “appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa.” The note continued:
Case numbers have not grown at the same exponential rate as in other regions and so far Africa has not experienced the high mortality seen in some parts of the world. Today, there are 3,100 confirmed deaths on the continent.
By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, deaths stood at more than 4,900. Early analysis by WHO suggests that Africa’s lower mortality rate may be the result of demography and other possible factors. Africa is the youngest continent demographically, with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Older adults have a significantly increased risk of developing a severe illness. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60 years.
WHO also noted that African governments swiftly imposed restrictive measures on their populations in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease. However, it also said that despite “significant progress in testing”, rates of testing remain low in comparison to other regions.
It insisted that despite the relatively low number of cases, “the pandemic remains a major threat to the continent’s health systems”.
Now that countries are starting to ease their confinement measures, there is a possibility that cases could increase significantly, and it is critical that governments remain vigilant and ready to adjust measures in line with epidemiological data and proper risk assessment.