ADDIS ABEBA – Coronavirus could kill up to 190,000 people in Africa in the first year if control measures fail to work, World Health Organization or WHO’s research claims.
The numbers would overwhelm the available medical capacity in much of the continent, WHO warns citing a new study.
The research, which is based on prediction modelling, looks at 47 countries in the WHO African Region with a total population of one billion.
WHO Africa Director Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti said transmission of the virus in the continent has been slower but could result in a longer outbreak.
“While coronavirus likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,” Dr. Moeti said.
The WHO proposed a strengthening of the health care systems in the continent.
“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,” she said.
The predicted number of cases that would require hospitalization would overwhelm the available medical capacity in much of Africa.
There would be an estimated 3.6 million–5.5 million COVID-19 hospitalizations, of which 82 000–167 000 would be severe cases requiring oxygen, and 52 000–107 000 would be critical cases requiring breathing support.
Such a huge number of patients in hospitals would severely strain the health capacities of countries.
The study recommends that countries across Africa need to expand the capacity particularly of primary hospitals and ensure that basic emergency care is included in primary health systems.
“The importance of promoting effective containment measures is ever more crucial, as sustained and widespread transmission of the virus could severely overwhelm our health systems,” said Dr. Moeti. “Curbing a largescale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus.”
[Photo WHO Africa]