A security guard sanitises people's hands during t
A security guard sanitises people's hands during the media briefing to discuss the first case of Covid-19 at Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape. (Photo by Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)
  • WHO has warned the coronavirus could kill up to 190,000 people across Africa in a year if proper restrictions are not put in place.
  • This was the result of a study that took into account 47 African countries with a total population of 1 billion.
  • So far there have been 51,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in African countries, and 2,000 deaths.
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A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that if containment measures in African countries fail, between 83,000 and 190,000 people across the continent could die in the first 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study was based on 47 African countries with a total population of 1 billion, and found that between 29 million to 44 million people could become infected in the first year of the pandemic - 26% of the population.

The report also found that the virus is likely to spread less rapidly across Africa than in other parts of the world, but could linger for a dangerously long time.

"While COVID-19 likely won't spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder in transmission hotspots," WHO's Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

"The predicted number of cases that would require hospitalization would overwhelm the available medical capacity in much of Africa," WHO said in a statement. A March 2020 survey of 47 African countries found there were an average of nine intensive care unit beds per 1 million people.

Thus far there have been over 51,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, and 2,000 deaths. "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," said Moeti. He added that Namibia and the Seychelles have implemented these measures, and have not reported any new cases for one month.

South Africa and Egypt currently have the highest number of COVID-19 cases with 8,200 and 8,000 cases respectively.

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