Within three to six months, the novel coronavirus cases in Africa could climb from thousands to nearly 10 million, according to a provisional model as told by a regional World Health Organization official.
Aljazeera reports that new research is showing that Africa could see 300,000 deaths from COVID-19 even under the best-case scenarios, as shown in a mode from the Imperial College London. However, under the worst-case, the UN Economic Commission for Africa says that the continent could see an upwards of 3.3. million deaths and 1.2 billion infections if there are no interventions against the virus.
As of Friday (April 17) Africa has confirmed more than 17,000 cases of coronavirus and close to 900 deaths.
“We are concerned that the virus continues to spread geographically, within countries,” said Matshidiso Moeti, director of WHO’s Africa region. “The numbers continue to increase every day.”
Despite the unsettling predictions, Michael Yao, head of emergency operation for WHO Africa, said that the tentative predictions have the possibility of changing, referring back to the worst-case predictions for the Ebola outbreak that did not live up to its projections after communities changed their behavior.
“This is still to be fine-tuned,” he said. “It’s difficult to make a long-term estimation because of the context changes too much and also public health measures, when they are fully implemented, they can actually have an impact.”
South Africa, once had the highest number of cases but it has now slowed after being placed on a strict lockdown. But other nations like Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Algeria have reportedly seen higher fatalities.
Last month, experts explained that crowded conditions in poor areas could possibly lead to an even faster transmision. “We have low-income workers who cannot afford to self-isolate or take time off to work,” founder of Mayibuye Health in Johannesburg, Dr. Atiya Mosam said.
Dr. Moeti states that the World Health Organization requires $300M to help African governments respond to the pandemic.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.