The new coronavirus could infect between 29 million and 44 million people in Africa in the first year and cause between 83,000 and 190,000 deaths if the spread of the virus is not contained. That’s what the World Health Organization (WHO) says today.
The predictions are in a new WHO study on Africa based on the assumption that no measures will be introduced to contain the spread, which fortunately is not the case, said today by Matshidiso Moeti, head of WHO Africa.
Among other things, most countries have introduced restrictions on public meetings and international travel, and have set a curfew to curb the spread of the virus.
The virus reached Africa later than other continents, and the infection rate is lower than elsewhere, but that can still translate into an extended, long-term outbreak, WHO said. “Covid-19 could become a regular part of our lives in the coming years unless many governments adopt a proactive approach in the region. We need to test, track, isolate, and treat,” Muti said in a separate statement.
The organization warns that smaller countries, but also Algeria, South Africa, and Cameroon, can be severely affected.
One respirator per 100,000 inhabitants
The WHO study covers 47 of the 54 countries on the African continent. A little over 52,000 cases of Covid-19 have been identified to date. Two thousand forty-three people in Africa have already succumbed to the disease.
According to the WHO worst-case scenario, there are an estimated 3.6 to 5.5 million hospitalizations due to Covid-19. 82,000 to 167,000 of these are severe cases requiring oxygen. 52,000 to 107,000 cases would be critical and would require artificial respiration, according to WHO Africa.
For every 100,000 inhabitants, Africa has less than one intensive care bed and one ventilator, according to research by Reuters.
Healthcare personnel is also at high risk. “We are very concerned that nearly 1,000 African health workers became infected with Covid-19. We know that most African countries already had a serious shortage of health personnel,” Moeti said today.