As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus cases are starting to spike again in some African countries, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) is warning that governments should step up preparations.
In October, COVID-19 cases increased by 45% per week on average in Kenya; by 19% in Democratic Republic of Congo; and by 8% in Egypt, Dr. John Nkengasong, who heads the African Union-run organisation, told CNN.
According to data from the Africa CDC reported by the BBC, new cases on the continent rose by 13% on the previous week in the week up to Nov. 8, while new deaths rose by 18% on the previous week. Countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Cape Verde, and Botswana have also shown the highest average number of new cases per capita.
More populous countries like Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, and DR Congo have also seen increases; with the Nigerian health minister, Osagie Enahire, expressing concerns over a second wave of COVID-19, with cases in Nigeria now exceeding 65,000.
South Africa, Africa’s second largest economy, has had the highest recorded number of total cases and reported deaths in Africa since the pandemic began. Higher than average new cases have been reported in Free State, Northern Cape, and Western Cape provinces in the past two weeks.
Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion, has reported a lower number of cases and deaths compared to the rest of the world and, while experts say the continent's relatively young population and low obesity and type-2 diabetes levels might be responsible, the WHO says testing levels are still low in Africa compared to other regions.
"Most African countries are focused on testing travellers, patients, or contacts, and we estimate that a significant number of cases are still missed," WHO's Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti told the BBC. Just 10 African countries are responsible for 75% of total COVID-19 tests carried out in the continent — South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ghana.
There are extreme variations in testing rates, however, with South Africa conducting the highest number of tests and Nigeria doing relatively few per capita, according to Our World in Data, a UK-based project which collates COVID-19 information.
"The time to prepare for a second wave is truly now," Nkengasong told CNN, advising governments "not to get into prevention fatigue mode."
In its Oct. 21 update on Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) encouraged member states to "observe all precautionary measures diligently and comprehensively." Africa has recorded more than 2 million COVID-19 cases so far, with over 48,000 deaths.
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