Official statistics on coronavirus cases in Africa make it look like the continent has avoided the worst of the pandemic. But in a continent where most of the deaths are not officially registered and many countries are struggling to vaccinate their populations, the vast majority of coronavirus cases - around six out of seven - are not daffected, according to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Director of Africa at the World Health Organization.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Dr Moeti said the WHO estimated that around 59 million people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic until October 10. Only just over 8 million cases have been officially recorded.
"Now is the time to go on the offensive against Covid-19 and working with local communities to break chains of transmission and prevent larger epidemics from occurring "said Dr Moeti.
The analysis from WHO was derived from a coronavirus calculator developed by Resolve to Save Lives, a world public health organization specializing in cardiovascular disease and preventing epidemics. The coronavirus calculator estimates infections based on the number of reported cases and deaths, and "a death rate from infection based on population-based studies ", according to a WHO statement.
Africa remains the continent with the lowest vaccination rates. In nearly half of African countries that have received Covid-19 vaccines, only 2% of the population or less has been fully vaccinated, according to WHO
With limited testing available, Dr Moeti said, many communities in Africa "were flying blind ", with asymptomatic people transmitting the virus without knowing that. 'they had it.
In an effort to curb transmission, she announced a community initiative toimprove coronavirus testing in eight countries: Burundi, Côte d 'Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia. The initiative includes a wider use of antigen detection, a relatively inexpensive type of test that gives results in about 15 minutes, and a voluntary 'ring-based' strategy of screening for anyone living under. 100 meters from a positive case.
Dr. Moeti said coronavirus cases appeared to be trending "down or plateau" in most African countries, although some are still reporting increases, including Angola, Gabon and Cameroon. In Rwanda, which had applied one of the most st locksricts , bars resumed normal operations at the end of September after being closed for 18 months.
Several African countries are also dealing with epidemics of other infectious diseases, including the deadly Ebola virus. Côte d 'Ivoire confirmed its first case of Ebola in nearly 30 years in August, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has since reported two fatal cases of Ebola, Dr Moeti said. Guinea had an epidemic earlier this year.