The World Health Organisation (WHO), Regional Office for Africa located in Brazzaville, Congo, says South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya are countries with the highest number of reported Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections as the number of confirmed cases in the African continent rose to over 1.6 million.
The United Nations (UN) health agency gave the update in its regional official Twitter account @WHOAFRO.
WHO stated on its dashboard that there were over 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent, with more than 1.3 million recoveries and 40,000 deaths cumulatively.
According to the dashboard: South Africa reported 708,359 cases and 18, 741 deaths; Ethiopia had 91,118 cases with 1,384 deaths, while Kenya had 46,144 reported cases and 858 deaths.
Meanwhile, WHO Regional Office in a statement posted on its website said that the new approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, would significantly boost testing capacity.
The UN health agency said that many African countries had struggled to test sufficient numbers to control the pandemic, with only 12 in the region reaching a key threshold of 10 tests per 10, 000 people per week, during the past month.
The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying, “they have also often fallen short when compared to other countries of a similar size in a different region.
“For example, Senegal has significantly boosted its testing capacity, but is testing 14 times less than the Netherlands. Nigeria is testing 11 times less than Brazil.
“The widespread use of high-quality rapid testing in Africa can revolutionise the continent’s response to COVID-19 pandemic. The new, antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests will help meet the huge testing needs in Africa.”
According to the statement, most countries in the region conduct polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests, the gold standard, which require laboratories, reagents and experts, limiting COVID-19 testing mostly to large cities.
“People can wait from 48 hours to more than 10 days for results, as they are sent for laboratory verification.
“The new rapid tests are easy to use, cheaper than PCR tests and provide the results in just 15 minutes to 30 minutes, enabling countries to decentralise testing,” it said.
The statement quoted Moeti as saying that most African countries were focusing their attentions on testing travellers, patients or contacts, and estimate that a significant number of cases are still missed.