The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a stark warning on Thursday that as many as 190,000 Africans could die in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail.
In a new study carried out by the agency’s regional office in Brazzaville, it was found that between 83,000 and 190,000 could die and 29 to 44 million be infected during the period. The research is based on prediction modelling and covers 47 countries with a total population of one billion.
AFP reported that though spread of the virus has been slow across the continent which has yet not recorded the soaring number of infections or deaths seen in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, experts have consistently warned that Africa is particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, due to weak health infrastructure, high rates of poverty, numerous roiling conflicts and a proven susceptibility to previous epidemics.
The statement released by the UN agency on Thursday reads in part;
“The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world.
“The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years.”
WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti added;
“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots”.
“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.”
Africa has so far recorded 53,334 cases and 2,065 fatalities — out of a global death toll of nearly 267,000.