The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said that between 83,000 to 190,000 people in Africa could die of COVID-19 while an additional 29 to 44 million are likely to contract the disease if containment measures fail to work.
A new study conducted by WHO regional office for Africa shed light on the likely COVID-19 fatalities in the continent during the first year of the pandemic based on prediction modelling that factored demographics, social and environmental factors as well as existing disease burden.
“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread exponentially in Africa as it has done elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder transmission hotspots,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa.
“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,” she added.
The WHO study revealed that a lower rate of COVID-19 transmission in Africa points to a likelihood of a prolonged outbreak while small countries in the continent alongside hotspots like South Africa, Algeria and Cameroon were at a higher risk if they failed to invest in robust containment measures.
The study proposed upgrading of primary healthcare infrastructure across Africa to enhance its capacity to cope with emergency care for COVID-19 patients.
Moeti said that robust mitigation measures are key to averting widespread transmission of the disease that could overwhelm already fragile health systems in Africa.