WHO: Africa Covid cases 7 times more than reported

Monday, October 18th, 2021 06:00 | By
World Health Organisation. Photo/Courtesy

Six out of seven cases of Covid-19 infections in Kenya and other African countries go undetected due to low testing levels, an analysis conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa has revealed.

According to WHO analysis, by October 10, the cumulative number of Covid-19 infections was estimated to be 59 million in Africa, which is seven times more than the over eight million cases reported.

According to the analysis, Covid-19 detection in Africa has focused on people reporting to health facilities with symptoms and testing arriving and departing international travellers, leading to high under-reporting.

“With limited testing, we are still flying blind in far too many communities in Africa.

Most tests are carried out on people with symptoms, but much of the transmission is driven by asymptomatic people, so what we see could just be the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Case finding

According to Dr. Moeti, test numbers have been rising in Africa, but the new community-based testing would help raise detection rates.

WHO has announced a new initiative to enhance community screening for Covid-19 in eight countries.

The programme aims to reach more than seven million people with rapid diagnostic tests in the next year.

The global health body has disbursed $1.8 million (Sh200 million) to the eight countries.

The funds will support countries to interrupt disease transmission, through active case finding by deploying teams in local communities to seek out possible contacts of people who have tested positive for the disease.

Since the pandemics started, about 70 million Covid-19 tests have been conducted in a continent of 1.3 billion people.

According to WHO, the United States has conducted more than 550 million tests although its population is a third of Africa’s.

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