By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, Aug. 5, 2020 The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa located in Brazzaville, Congo, says there are no fewer than 978,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent.
The UN health agency gave the update on its regional official Twitter account @WHOAFRO on Wednesday.
WHO stated on its dashboard that “there are over 978,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 652,000 recoveries and more than 21,000 deaths cumulatively .’’
It stated that South Africa had 521,318 cases and 8,884 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 44,333 confirmed cases and 910 deaths, while Ghana had 37,812 confirmed cases and 191 deaths.
It added that Seychelles, Eritrea and Mauritius were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region.
The office said that Seychelles had 114 confirmed cases with zero death, Eritrea; 282 confirmed cases with zero death, Mauritius had 344 reported cases with 10 deaths.
Meanwhile, in a statement posted on its website, the office said COVID-19 infections in Africa would exceed one million cases in the coming days as the pandemic surges in several hotspot countries.
“In a little more than three weeks, the number of cases on the continent almost doubled to 889 457, with 18, 806 deaths.
“Overall, the pandemic is accelerating with the number of new cases increasing by 50 per cent during the last 14 days compared with the previous fortnight.
“However, only five countries account for about 75 per cent of the cumulative COVID-19 cases – they are Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
“South Africa alone accounts for around half of the continent’s total cases. Deaths are also increasing.
“A total of 4,376 new deaths were recorded during the last 14 days, representing a 22 per cent increase from the previous two weeks,’’ it stated.
According to the statement, seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa which had imposed lockdowns and have now started easing them have experienced a 20 per cent jump in cases over the past two weeks.
It stated that some countries such as the Republic of the Congo and Morocco had had to re-implement partial restrictions because of an increase in cases.
The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “As Africa approaches one million cases, the continent is at a pivotal point.
“The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands.
“Countries need to keep apace and urgently decentralise their key response services. We can still stop COVID-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now,” it stated.
According to WHO, one of our most important collective responsibilities is to protect frontline health workers, who are at high risk.
“Forty-one African countries have reported nearly 14,000 health worker infections.
“In 16 countries which reported health worker infections over the past month, nearly a quarter recorded an increase in the past two weeks compared with the preceding fortnight.
“Expanding the scale and quality of public health measures such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and care of patients remain central to the response, as well as preventing infection through hand washing, physical distancing and wearing of masks.
“Lifting of lock downs that has helped to slow down the spread of COVID-19 should be evidence-based, phased and targeted,” it said.
In addition, the office said although infections were on the rise across the continent, the trend was varied as nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa had reported a decline in cases over the past three weeks.
“Gabon and Mauritania have made significant progress with the time it takes for case numbers to double.
“In Djibouti and Tunisia, very few cases have been reported in the last few weeks, and most are imported.
“In Egypt, Africa’s second-most populous country and one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, a decline in cases has been observed over the last five weeks,’’ it added.
Journalists reports that within the WHO system, Africa is divided between two regional offices.
The WHO Regional Office for Africa comprises 47 countries which include: Algeria and most of sub-Saharan Africa.
The WHO Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean include seven African countries, namely :Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.