Coronavirus Cases Surpass 500,000 in Africa as Outbreak Threatens to Overwhelm Fragile Health Systems
Cara Anna, Associated Press, July 8, 2020
Africa now has more than a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases, while South Africa’s health minister declared Wednesday that “we have now reached the surge.”
The continent-wide total is over 509,000, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after South Africa recorded another day of more than 10,000 confirmed cases as a new global hot spot. The country makes up 43 per cent of Africa’s cases.
The true number of cases among Africa’s 1.3 billion people is unknown as its 54 countries face a serious shortage of testing materials for the virus. “A tremendous problem, a real crisis of access,” the World Health Organization’s Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week.
Already COVID-19 has killed more people in Africa – 11,955 – than Ebola did in its deadliest outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, the WHO said Wednesday.
“With more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of COVID-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating,” Moeti said Wednesday.
The African continent has just 2.2 health workers – and 0.3 doctors – per 1,000 people, according to the WHO.
Experts have warned that even if badly needed supplies such as ventilators are provided to African nations, another challenge is having enough trained workers to operate them.