YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa warned on Thursday that easing measures against the novel coronavirus in many countries risked a resurgence in infections.

In a press briefing, WHO regional director Matshidiso Moeti urged African countries to step up coronavirus testing.

“As we adjust together to this new normal, I ask that governments, partners and communities remember that none of us are safe until we are all safe,” Moeti said.

Cautioning that the pandemic was accelerating on a continental scale, she noted that five countries accounted for nearly 75% of all cases in Africa.

According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than three out of four of all the reported cases and deaths on the continent were reported in South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Sudan.

“We have a situation that is very diverse,” Moeti said. “Africa is not one country, it is 54. And the dynamics are different in every county.”

She said that confirmed case numbers have risen as countries increased and more actively pursued testing efforts, while also obtaining more testing materials.

Other diseases

Moeti said that the fight against other diseases and conditions had now been disadvantaged as people were afraid to seek treatment at health facilities due to the risks of contracting the coronavirus.

“This is why we expect a certain number of people to have died due to this lack of assistance. We need to make sure people know that health services are available for them,” she added.

In recent weeks, several health officials across Africa have urged citizens to resume hospital checkups and vaccinations despite fears of contracting the coronavirus.

“In the end, we may see more damage as a result of other illnesses and conditions than we will because of COVID-19, and countries need to do both.”

The number of coronavirus cases in Africa surpassed 890,000, with 18,884 deaths and 540,872 recoveries, according to Africa CDC.

“Coming up to the first million of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the African continent, countries have averted what could have been a much worse decision by taking some very courageous decisions,” Moeti said.

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