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WHO checking how many ventilators each African countries has to respond to virus

Of the more than 4,000 cases have been reported in sub-Saharan Africa and 125 people have died.

A ventilator. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was taking stock of how many intensive care unit (ICU) facilities and ventilators each African country had to respond to the coronavirus, as many already had weak health systems.

More than 4,000 cases have been reported in sub-Saharan Africa and 125 people have died.

The Africa regional directorate said it wanted all countries to be ready.

WHO medical officer Dr Zabulon Yoti said sub-Saharan African countries were being assessed to determine their capacity to take care of critical COVID-19 patients.

“A small percentage of people from the data available, about 1% to 2%, may need ventilators and 15% may need ICU. The health systems in Africa were already weak with a minimum supply of these, ICU and ventilators.”

He said the ideal position would be to slow down the rate of deaths.

“We have so far had 125 deaths reported out of around 4,000 cases reported in the 47 countries of the region. We have noticed that deaths occur not only in the elderly but in people less than 40 as well.”

African concerns include countries that don't have testing capability, but the WHO said the low numbers of confirmed cases should not be cause for concern and do not mean that there were large numbers of undetected cases.