The number of COVID-19 cases on the African continent have surpassed 1 million, figures from the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) showed on Friday, with South Africa the worst-affected.
Some 1,007,336 cases have now been confirmed, with 22,066 deaths, the data showed, but infections on the continent still only account for a small percentage of the global trend.
“The course of the pandemic in Africa has been much less than we predicted,” the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti told reporters this week.
The WHO in May warned the virus could cause as many as 10 million infections on the continent within six months.
African countries have been praised for locking down early, but many experts fear the number of cases could be much higher due to a lack of testing.
South Africa, which is the fifth worst-affected country in the world globally, has seen more than half a million cases and over 9,000 deaths, but the health minister and the WHO noted this week that cases appear to be declining.
“We have started to see a decline in the daily number of cases in South Africa … but we need to observe it for a little bit longer before we say ‘yes, this is a trend,’” Moeti said.
Ten countries account for 80 per cent of coronavirus testing taking place across Africa, a regional body said on Thursday, indicating that little testing is taking place in many countries around the vast continent.
Covid-19 confirmed cases have accelerated in Africa and hit one million on Thursday. Experts say low levels of testing in many countries means infection rates are likely to be higher than reported. Some governments across the continent are too poor or conflict-ridden to carry out widespread testing, while others are reluctant to share data or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny.
South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius have each conducted more than 200,000 tests, said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So far nearly nine million tests have been conducted across the continent, up 9.4% from last week’s tally.