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Africa COVID-19 cases soon will surpass one million, says WHO


July 30, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The number of coronavirus infections in Africa will soon cross one million patients, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday.

In a virtual press conference on Thursday organized by APO Group, a pan-African media group, WHO regional director said that the number of cases on the continent almost doubled to 889 457 during the past three weeks.

The surge of the pandemic is estimated at 50% during the last 14 days compared with the previous fortnight, they stressed that five countries account for about 75% of the cumulative COVID-19 cases including Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

"South Africa alone accounts for around half of the continent’s total cases," WHO said.

Deaths are also increasing. A total of 4376 new deaths were recorded during the last 14 days, representing a 22% increase from the previous two weeks.

"As Africa approaches one million cases, the continent is at a pivotal point," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

"The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands. Countries need to keep apace and urgently decentralize their key response services. We can still stop COVID-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now," he added.

Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion people had 18,857 deaths, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The five African countries reporting most deaths are South Africa (7 497), Egypt (4 728), Algeria (1 186), Nigeria (873) and Sudan (725).

HOW official expressed fears that religious and social gatherings during the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, begins on Friday would contribute to to the spread of the respiratory disease.

"As we approach the Eid Al Adha feast, there is also increased risk of transmission as a result of social and religious mass gatherings," said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Any decision to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a standardized risk assessment, and should be part of a comprehensive approach taken by authorities to respond to the pandemic," Al-Mandhari added.

(ST)