WHO concerned about COVID-19 epidemic in West Africa

The number of COVID-19 cases in Africa is now nearing 37,000 and 1,600 deaths.

People wear protective masks as they wait at a bus stop outside Treichville university hospital in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 11 March 2020, where the first Ivorian case of new coronavirus was confirmed. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa director Dr Matshediso Moeti on Thursday said Namibia, Mauritania, and Seychelles had recorded zero COVID-19 cases but that the number of infections on the continent continued to rise.

Moeti was on a panel with Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize convened by the World Economic Forum. She said it was politically challenging for countries to put measures in place to stop the pandemic, but they should use metrics to back their decisions.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Africa is now nearing 37,000 and 1,600 deaths.

Moeti said the fatality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa was at 3.9% but measures taken by some countries were beginning to show results.

“What is very encouraging is that we have a number of countries that have reported zero cases over a couple of weeks – they are admittedly small countries: Namibia, Mauritania, and Seychelles,” Moeti said.

Moeti said west Africa was now a concern.

“Where we are seeing community spread in a significant number of countries compared to others. We are working particularly with the UN in West Africa to see how to support that,” she said.

The North Africa region had the highest number of cases with 14,500. South Africa and Egypt had the highest cases both at around 5,300 each, and Algeria recorded the highest number of fatalities at 444.

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 30 April 2020 PM

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