The coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” in Africa with more than 200,000 confirmed cases across the continent and 5,600 deaths, the region’s World Health Organisation director Dr Matshidiso Moeti has said.
South Africa had more than a quarter of the reported cases and was seeing high numbers of confirmed cases and deaths in Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, Dr Moeti told a briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
She added that Western Cape was looking similar to recent outbreaks in Europe and the US.
The country has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in Africa, but there are fears that a steep rise in cases could overwhelm it.
Moeti said the virus was spreading from capital cities where it arrived with travellers and that 10 countries were bearing the brunt of Africa’s epidemic, accounting for 75% of confirmed cases and infections.
“We believe that large numbers of severe cases and deaths are being missed in Africa,” she said. “One of the biggest challenges in Africa continues be availability of supplies, particularly test kits.”
"Until such time as we have access to an effective vaccine, I'm afraid we'll probably have to live with a steady increase in the region, with some hotspots having to be managed in a number of countries, as is happening now in South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon for example, which require very strong public health measures, social distancing measures to take place," Dr Moeti said.
Meanwhile in Southeast Asia, the number of new coronavirus cases in Indonesia continues to rise, with 979 infections and 41 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
The Jakarta government has said it is confident the spread of the virus has slowed despite the number of infections reaching a record high of more than 1,200 earlier this week.
Restrictions in Indonesia’s capital were partly relaxed on Monday after two months of lockdown as as the world’s fourth most populous nation gradually reopens its economy.