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Africa Sees Worrying 43% Jump in Virus Cases

Overall numbers still relatively low, but that's changing quickly
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 23, 2020 10:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Africa registered a 43% jump in reported COVID-19 cases in the last week, highlighting a warning from the World Health Organization that the continent could become the next epicenter of the global outbreak, per the AP. Africa also has a "very, very limited" and "very, very strained" testing capacity, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in his weekly briefing on Thursday. The surge in infections on the continent is almost certainly underreported and even higher in reality, say medical experts. WHO's recent report painted a grim picture for Africa, one of the last continents to be hit by the pandemic. WHO warned the virus could kill more than 300,000 people and push 30 million into desperate poverty.

Africa still has time to avert such a disaster, Nkengasong said, but testing people and tracing virus cases is critical. "It all depends on what we are discussing here, which is: Are you testing? Are you finding the cases? Are you isolating and tracking the contacts?" In the two months since the continent began mobilizing to fight the outbreak, fewer than 500,000 tests have been conducted on the population of 1.3 billion. African governments reported a total of nearly 26,000 cases as of Thursday, according to the Africa CDC, up from just over 16,000 a week ago. Around 1,200 people have died. Although those figures are still relatively small in the global picture, the sharp increase in cases is a cause for concern. The previous week saw an increase of 29%. Read the full story.

(Read more Africa stories.)

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