On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that South America has become a new epicentre of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over 5 million people across the world. Brazil is the hardest hit with the highest number of cases and while the number of coronavirus cases is surging in some African countries, the death toll is relatively low.
“The Covid-19 pandemic today reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases. The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago,” the WHO said in a statement, noting there were 3,100 confirmed deaths on the vast continent.
WHO's regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said: “For now Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world.”
Even so, she said, “We must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”
According to the WHO, nearly half of African countries are experiencing community transmission of the virus.
With surging cases and rampant community transmission, the situation in South America appears grave. Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, speaking earlier to a news conference, said: “In a sense South America has become a new epicentre for the disease.”
He said that authorities in the “most affected: Brazil have approved broad use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of the highly infectious virus.
The novel coronavirus which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December has had devastating results on both human life and the global economy. With countries ordering full or partial lockdowns in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, business activities have come to a standstill, pushing millions on the brink of poverty.