A new assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that
only 14.2% or one in seven COVID-19 infections are being detected in Africa.
The WHO analysis estimates infections based on the reported number
of cases and deaths and an infection fatality rate grounded in population-based
studies. It found that as of 10 October 2021 the cumulative number of COVID-19
infections is estimated to be 59 million in Africa, which is seven times more
than the over 8 million cases reported.
Dr Moeti Matshidiso, the WHO Regional Director for Africa told a
news conference on Thursday that detection of cases has focused on people
reporting to health facilities with symptoms, in addition to testing arriving
and departing international travelers.
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Since the start of the pandemic and as of 10 October, more than 70
million COVID-19 tests have been reported by African countries, which is a
fraction of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
By contrast, the United States, with about a third of the
population, has reportedly administered over 550 million tests, while the
United Kingdom, with less than 10% of the population of Africa, has administered
over 280 million tests.
To reverse that trend and curb transmission, the WHO Regional Office for Africa
on Thursday announced a new initiative to enhance community screening for
COVID-19 in eight countries.
The programme aims to reach more than 7 million people with rapid
diagnostic tests in the next year. The countries participating in the programme
are Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and
The survey will be done by deploying teams in local communities to
seek out possible contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and
offer antigen rapid diagnostic tests.
Moeti says that the survey will use a “ring strategy which was
pioneered successfully in the eradication of smallpox in the latter half of the
20th century to vaccinate people who are most likely to be infected and during
the recent Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the
//Cue in:” WHO’s new community…
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The programme aims to increase the testing capacity in each
participating country by 40%, ensuring they reach the WHO recommended benchmark
of 10 tests performed per 10 000 people weekly.
Currently, around 20 countries more than a third of African
countries do not reach this benchmark, according to figures by WHO.
Overall, there have now been over 8.4 million COVID-19 cases
recorded in Africa, including 214, 000 deaths.
Despite a decline in case numbers in recent weeks, WHO reports
vaccination rates remain low, with only 30% of the continent’s 54 nations
having fully vaccinated 10% of their population against the disease compared
with almost 90% of high-income countries.
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Meanwhile, just under half of the African countries that have
received COVID-19 vaccines have fully vaccinated just 2% or less of their