YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The number of COVID-19 pandemic cases in the African continent has now grown to 1.59 million, with 38,868 deaths, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday.

Out of those infected, 1.31 million patients have recovered from the pandemic.

Southern Africa still leads the numbers with 763,958 confirmed cases. Other regions North Africa has reported 400,109, West Africa 182,544, East Africa 187,017, and Central Africa 58,921 cases.

South Africa remains the hardest-hit country in the continent with 694,537 coronavirus cases with 18,028 deaths and 625,574 recoveries.

Earlier this week, with the help of Africa CDC, a group of public, private and non-profit organizations, led by the African Union Commission launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI).

The initiative worth $100 million spread over four-years is aimed to expand access to next-generation genomic sequencing tools and expertise to strengthen public health surveillance and laboratory networks across Africa.

“Strengthening genomic surveillance systems is key for early notification and control of disease outbreaks,” John Nkengasong Africa CDC director said in a statement on Monday.

Next-gen pathogen genomic sequencing can help public health institutions quickly detect outbreaks – but not all countries have access to these tools, Africa CDC said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

The Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative will help strengthen genomics capacity in more 20 public health institutions.

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