Africa faces a Covid-19 catastrophe
April 8, 2020 - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has risen to almost 10,000 and caused more than 500 deaths. The continent now faces an imminent catastrophe, according to the World Health Organization.
Egypt reported Africa’s first COVID-19 case on February 14. Since then, more than half of Africa’s 54 countries have confirmed cases and imposed lockdowns, curfews, travel bans or other measures.
“COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths but also to unleash economic and social devastation. Its spread beyond major cities means the opening of a new front in our fight against this virus,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
The latest readiness assessments by the WHO indicates Africa has minimal intensive care capacity and trained personal for treatment of severe Covid-19 cases. Nations that have intensive care units lack sufficient ventilators. Many countries have none -- Liberia has just four intensive care beds for the entire country.
Africa’s relatively weak health systems also face other infectious diseases -- from HIV and malaria to tuberculosis.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates Africa may need up to $10.6 billion in unanticipated increases in health spending. UNECA has called for emergency actions to protect 30 million jobs immediately at risk across Africa, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors
The International Monetary Fund said it had received requests for emergency financing from some 20 African countries, with an additional ten or more expected to follow.
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