51 million COVID-19 infections undetected in Africa: WHO
World Health Organisation (WHO) says that 51 million COVID-19 infections are undetected in Africa.
In a report released on Wednesday, the global health body blamed reactive testing for the inaccuracy in the cases reported by African countries.
It said that the continent focused on people reporting to health facilities with symptoms and testing done at arrival and departure of international travellers to detect COVID-19 cases, leaving out asymptomatic individuals.
WHO disclosed that its analysis used a COVID-19 health calculator developed by Resolve to Save Lives to arrive at the figure.
The resolve to save lives calculator estimates infections based on the reported number of cases and deaths and an infection fatality rate grounded in population-based studies.
WHO said that its findings as of October 10 revealed that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Africa were estimated to be 59 million, seven times more than the over eight million reported cases.
“The cumulative number of COVID-19 infections is estimated to be 59 million in Africa, which is seven times more than the over eight million cases reported,” the report read
“To date, COVID-19 detection in Africa has focused on people reporting to health facilities with symptoms, in addition to testing arriving and departing international travellers, leading to large-scale under-reporting given the high percentage of asymptomatic cases on the continent,” it added.
Speaking on the findings, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said most of the tests in the continent were carried out on people with symptoms, leaving out asymptomatic people who are the drivers of the virus.
“With limited testing, we’re still flying blind in far too many communities in Africa. 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,” she said.
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