YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday launched a network of laboratories to reinforce genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus in Africa.

In a statement, WHO said 12 specialized and regional reference laboratories in the network will provide sequencing, data analysis, and technical support to the countries.

“As we continue to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, being able to not only track its evolution, but also assess the possible mutation of the virus is crucial to mounting an effective response,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

“Through this new laboratory network dedicated to genome sequencing we can better develop vaccines and treatment which are tailored to Africans and eventually bring COVID-19 under control,” she added.

The total number of people who have contracted the virus in the continent has surpassed 1.32 million, while recoveries topped 1 million, according to latest data from the Africa CDC.

The death toll from the coronavirus in Africa reached 31,902.

Southern Africa is the most affected in terms of both caseload and death toll with 642,431 people confirmed positive to the virus.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic curve flattens in Africa, we must be prepared for a possible resurgence as already observed in some countries.

“With genomic sequencing we can have a better understanding of the pandemic through more precise identification of transmission clusters,” Dr. John Nkengasong, the director of Africa CDC said.

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