The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is worried Africa could face a “silent epidemic” if its leaders do not prioritize testing for Covid-19.
The WHO special envoy to Africa, Samba Sow, told a news conference on Monday that the world body was seriously concerned about how “a lack of testing” could easily cause a major spike in infections on the continent.
The WHO’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Africa was currently the region with the fewest diagnosed coronavirus cases, accounting for less than 1.5% of the global total and just 0.1% of deaths. But this could all change if the status quo with regard to testing remained.
Nevertheless, Dr. Tedros credited the continent’s experience dealing with other epidemics as helping it scale up its response to the coronavirus and be spared the impact seen elsewhere so far.
The Organisation’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, struck an equally somber note, saying some countries had taken measures to curb the disease at a high economic cost. Those measures, he continued, meant the pandemic was having a milder impact so far than some models had predicted, but yet, the continent could not continue hoping to be spared the worst impact of the disease for much longer.
He added that all African countries had preparedness plans in place, but insisted there were still “gaps and vulnerabilities”.