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COVID-19: Are Africa's diagnostic challenges blunting response effectiveness?


ABSTRACT: Since its emergence in Wuhan, China in December 2019, novel Coronavirus disease - 2019 (COVID-19) has rapidly spread worldwide, achieving pandemic status on 11 th March, 2020. As of 1 st April 2020, COVID-19, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), had infected over 800,000 people and caused over 40,000 deaths in 205 countries and territories. COVID-19 has had its heaviest toll on Europe, United States and China. As of 1 st of April 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa was relatively low, with the highest number registered by South Africa, which had reported 1,380 confirmed cases. On the same date (also the date of this review), Africa had reported 5,999 confirmed cases, of which 3,838 (almost 65%) occurred in South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, with the remaining 2,071 cases distributed unevenly across the other African countries. We speculate that while African nations are currently experiencing much lower rates of COVID-19 relative to other continents, their significantly lower testing rates may grossly underestimate incidence rates. Failure to grasp the true picture may mean crucial windows of opportunity shut unutilized, while limited resources are not deployed to maximum effect. In the absence of extensive testing data, an overestimation of spread may lead to disproportionate measures being taken, causing avoidable strain on livelihoods and economies. Here, based on the African situation, we discuss COVID-19 diagnostic challenges and how they may blunt responses.

SUBMITTER: Kobia F 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7205356 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 10.18683/germs.2019.1155

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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