The novel coronavirus could kill as many as 190,000 people in Africa during the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.
“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”
The WHO predicted that between 29 million to 44 million Africans could be infected in the first year. As many as 5.5 million of these people could require hospital treatment, a number that would overwhelm the medical capacity of most places on the continent.
A survey done in March of health services in Africa found an average of nine intensive care unit beds per 1 million people in 47 African countries.
“These would be woefully inadequate,” the WHO said.