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WHO projects 190,000 deaths in Africa

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UP TO 190,000 people in Africa could die of coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail.

The warning was handed down in a release by World Health Organisation Regional Office in Brazzaville, Congo Democratic Republic (CDR).

According to the release between 83,000 and 190,000 could die and 29 to 44 million be infected during the period.

“The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and a lower mortality rate compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world. The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years. The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years,” the statement said.

The research is based on prediction modelling and covers 47 countries with a total population of one billion, the WHO said in a statement.

Experts have consistently warned that Africa is particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, due to weak health infrastructure, high rates of poverty, numerous roiling conflicts and a proven susceptibility to previous epidemics.

But the virus has been slow to spread across the continent, which has yet not recorded the soaring number of infections or deaths seen in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

Explaining further, WHO Africa Director, Matshidiso Moeti said that “while COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots.

According to him, COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.

Smaller countries as well as Algeria, South Africa and Cameroon were at particularly high risk unless effective containment measures were in force, the WHO said.

Africa has so far recorded 53,334 cases and 2,065 fatalities — out of a global death toll of nearly 267,000 — according to an AFP tally.

Several countries have put confinement measures or lockdowns in place, but others have not and some are considering lifting restrictions.

Nigeria lifted the lockdown in Africa’s most populous city Lagos earlier this week, while South Africa started to ease its measures last week.

In a related development, Enugu State government has confirmed a new positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

In a statement today, Commissioner for Health in Enugu, Obi Ikechukwu, revealed that the case involved a nine-year-old child.

He explained that the patient had contact with the fourth case reported in the state.

Thus, the total number of cases ever reported in Enugu now rises to nine with seven active cases. The patient has been admitted into one of our Isolation and Treatment Centres, further contacts are being identified and line listed, and necessary samples will be taken for testing. Continue to practice physical/social distancing of at least 2m (or 6 feet) apart from each other. Practice proper respiratory hygiene – cough or sneeze into your elbow, use a tissue if you must and discard immediately into a safe and secure bin. Wash your hands as often as possible with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds (or the length of time it takes you to sing the happy birthday song twice) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser when there is no facility to allow you to wash your hands,” the commissioner said.

He noted that the decontamination of the patient’s home had been promptly carried out and urged the residents to stay at home but only go out when it was absolutely necessary.

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