Mbabane: More than 1 million coronavirus tests will be rolled out in Africa from next week to address a gap in assessing the number of cases on the continent, the head of the African Union’s health body has said.
In an online briefing to journalists on Thursday, John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, said maybe 15 million tests would be required across Africa in the next three months, the Associated Press reported.
Africa has suffered in the global race to obtain testing kits and other badly needed medical equipment. While the number of virus cases across the continent was above 17 000 on Thursday, health officials have said the testing shortage means more are out there. South Africa, the most assertive African nation in testing, has carried out perhaps 80 000 tests so far, Nkengasong said.
He also expressed concern for the US decision to cut funding for the World Health Organization, saying it absolutely will affect African Union member states’ ability to receive support from the UN agency.
Any reduction in support for African nations will be painful as the continent has some of the world’s weakest health systems.
Ten African nations have no ventilators at all to treat virus patients who need respiratory support, the Africa CDC chief said, but arrangements are being made to deliver some recently donated by the Jack Ma Foundation. Nkengasong did not name the 10 countries.
Ever since the first positive COVID-19 case was announced in Eswatini in March, perhaps less than 1000 tests have been carried out so far. According to statistics released by the Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi on Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in the kingdom is now 16, adding the number of recovered cases were half – 8 tested negative and the others are yet to receive or receiving treatment.
Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini on Wednesday announced that government was working on ensuring that national testing was conducted. The PM said this would be in line with what Health Organisation (WHO) around the world were recommending. He went on to say they had implemented forecasts for commodities required for testing and these commodities would continue to be delivered in the country.