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Sub-Saharan Africa experiencing continued acceleration of COVID-19 transmission: WHO

Public health surveillance is needed in many African countries as many of them are in the midst of fragility and conflict.

Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | There is “a continued acceleration of (COVID-19) transmission” in sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa which is now the fifth worst-hit country worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

The African continent as a whole has reported 597,223 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 9,691 deaths, according to WHO statistics by Monday.

There is “a continued acceleration of transmission” in sub-Saharan African countries, said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program at a routine press briefing on Monday.

He took South Africa as an example, which has contributed more than 60 percent of the confirmed cases in Africa. The cases in South Africa started in wealthier areas, but are becoming more established in poorer areas and affecting different populations now, he said.

Last week, South Africa witnessed a 30-percent increase in COVID-19 cases. Similar trends are observed in other African countries, including Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, with increasing rates of 69 percent, 66 percent and 57 percent respectively, the WHO expert said.

Although the cases from Africa only account for around four percent of the total worldwide, Ryan warned that what is happening in South Africa is “a marker of what the continent could face if original action is not taken to provide further support.”

Ryan said that external help and support to community-based interventions, clinical pathway improvements, and public health surveillance are needed in many African countries, as many of them are “in the midst of fragility and conflict.”

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