Over 50 million unreported COVID-19 infections in Africa, WHO estimates


A striking new analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded six in seven COVID-19 cases have gone undetected in Africa. The assessment indicates the real number of cases on the continent could be as high as 60 million and a new program to increase testing capacity has been proposed.

To date, there have been 8.4 million cases of COVID-19 and 214,000 deaths officially reported in Africa. However, the continent has experienced tiny levels of testing compared to the rest of the world.

Little more than 70 million COVID-19 tests have been reported by African countries since the beginning of the pandemic. These 70 million tests are a tiny fraction of the continent’s population of more than one billion.

In contrast, around 550 million tests have been administered in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. And in the United Kingdom the number of tests is even higher, with more than four tests administered for every one person.

“With limited testing, we’re still flying blind in far too many communities in Africa,” says WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti. “Most tests are carried out on people with symptoms, but much of the transmission is driven by asymptomatic people, so what we see could just be the tip of the iceberg.”



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