DURBAN – The Coronavirus appears to be taking a “different pathway” in Africa compared with the rest of the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Despite the number of infections now surpassing 100,000 and the virus having spread to every country in the continent, the pandemic has not struck with such devastating force in the continent in as much as it has done in other parts of the world.
WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said: “For now Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,”
“It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”
By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in the WHO European region, deaths stood at more than 4,900, while there are 3,100 confirmed deaths on the continent. Early analysis by the WHO suggests that Africa’s lower mortality rate may be the result of demography and other possible factors.
It noted that 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.
According to the director of Africa Centres for Disease Control, John Nkengasong the continent saw roughly the same number of new cases in the past week as the week before.
“We hope that trend continues” instead of a rapid exponential crisis,” said Nkengasong.
Despite the relatively lower number of Covid-19 cases in Africa, the pandemic remains a major threat to the continent’s health systems, the WHO warned.
“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,” it said.
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