WHO warns Africa could be next COVID-19 epicenter

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Africa could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. UN officials also say it is likely the pandemic will kill at least 300,000 people in Africa and push nearly 30 million into poverty.

More than a third of Africa’s population lacks access to adequate water supplies and nearly 60% of urban dwellers live in overcrowded slums – conditions where the virus could thrive.

The fragile health infrastructure in the continent means that it will be doubly strained by an increasing number of new Covid-19 infections. There are only around five intensive care beds available for every one million people in most African countries, compared with around 4,000 beds for every million people in Europe. The WHO has also highlighted that the continent lacks ventilators to deal with a pandemic.

Dr Moeti told BBC Global Health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar that international travel played a part. “If you look at the proportion of people who travel, Africa has fewer people who are traveling internationally,” she said. But now that the virus is in within Africa, she says that her organization is acting under the assumption that it will spread just as quickly as elsewhere.

The WHO has witnessed the virus spreading from big cities to “the hinterland” in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana, Dr Moeti said.


This entry was posted in , , by Grant Montgomery.

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