South America has become the new epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic with Brazil being the hardest-hit country. Cases are rising in some African countries too, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a few hours ago.
“The Covid-19 pandemic just reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases. The virus has now spread to every country within the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago,” the WHO said in a statement, noting there were 3,100 confirmed deaths on the continent.
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Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, who is from Botswana, stated: “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.”
Even though, she added, “We cannot be reassured into gratification as our health systems are very fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”
It is estimated that about half of the African countries are experiencing community transmission of the virus, the WHO affirmed.
The situation in South America is way worsening. Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, interviewed by the media, said: “In a sense, South America has become a new epicentre for the disease.”
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Brazil is indeed the “most affected,” and authorities there have approved broad use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treating the virus, he said. However, he reiterated that clinical evidence does not support the drug’s widespread use against the disease, given its risks.
Nine African countries had 50% rises in cases only in the past week, while others have seen a decline or have stable rates, Ryan said.
The low mortality rate might be because half the continent’s population is 18 or younger, he added. Yet, he also clarified that he remains very worried that the disease will spread on a continent with “significant gaps” in intensive care services, medical oxygen and ventilation.
Gravediggers carry the coffin of Antonia Rodrigues who passed away from the coronavirus disease. Image credit File Photo