African COVID deaths top 100,000

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African COVID deaths top 100,000

Thursday, February 18, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG,South Africa(AFP) — Africa on Thursday recorded more than 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, a grim milestone likely to understate the real toll, as the continent of 1.2 billion people battles a second wave of infections.

The 54 countries in the region have a death toll of 100,000 from 3,793,660 reported cases, according to an AFP tally.

The continent, relatively spared by the pandemic, is the last except Oceania to reach the threshold of 100,000 deaths, which Europe crossed in April 2020.

South Africa — the worst hit African country — rolled out a mass testing campaign at the start of the pandemic.

To date, the country has recorded nearly 1.5 million cases and more than 48,000 deaths.

But those figures, based on daily reports communicated by health authorities, only reflect a fraction of the actual case load, health specialists say.

"The cases are clearly under-reported because of poor access to healthcare facilities and under-reporting of milder cases," South African virologist Barry Schoub, also a member of the Scientific Council at the South African Ministry of Health told AFP.

Understaffed health facilities and lack of means have meant many African countries have been unable to do mass testing.

"Many countries have mainly PCR tests in the capitals. And the further one moves away from the urban centres, the less there are tests," explained French epidemiologist Emmanuel Baron from Doctors Without Borders.

"It is a disease that can go unnoticed with asymptomatic patients, or with symptoms that can be confused with others," he added.


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