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But deaths remain low in the continent compared to other parts of the world.
With only 3,100 confirmed coronavirus deaths there, experts believe that Africa “appears to be taking a different pathway,” according to a new WHO report.
In comparison, when Europe reported 100,000 cases, death rates were already close to 5,000.
WHO officials believe this could be due to Africa’s age demographics, as more than 60 percent of the continent’s population is under the age of 25.
In Europe, nearly 95 percent of the reported deaths were over the age of 60.
“For now, COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths [that] have devastated other regions of the world,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in Friday’s report.
The strict guidelines that were quickly enforced are also believed to have contributed to the low number of infections and fatalities.
But as countries are loosening restrictions in the attempt to aid their economies, WHO officials worry that there could be a spike in new cases.
The report noted that cases are still on the rise in Africa and “while overall it took 52 days to reach the first 10,000 cases, it took only 11 days to move from 30,000 to 50,000 cases.”
Another factor worrying officials is the rate of community transmission, with more than half of the countries in Africa struggling with this issue.
Low testing rates are also a problem, explained Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
“Despite global shortages, we are working hard to prioritize the delivery of testing kits and personal protective equipment to low- and middle-income countries that have the most vulnerable populations, based on the number of cases reported.”
A new study by WHO also showed that the health care community could easily be overwhelmed if “containment measures fail,” according to the organization’s report.