A new assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that only 14.2% – or one in seven – COVID-19 infections are being detected in Africa. To reverse that trend and curb transmission, the WHO Regional Office for Africa today announced a new initiative to enhance community screening for COVID-19 in eight countries. The programme aims to reach more than 7 million people with rapid diagnostic tests in the next year.
The WHO analysis used the COVID-19 calculator developed by Resolve to Save Lives which estimates infections based on reported number of cases and deaths and an infection fatality rate grounded in population-based studies. It found that as of 10 October 2021 the cumulative number of COVID-19 infections is estimated to be 59 million in Africa, which is seven times more than the over 8 million cases reported.
The countries participating in the programme are Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Zambia. To kick off implementation, WHO has disbursed US$ 1.8 million to the eight countries. WHO will support countries to interrupt disease transmission, through active case finding by deploying teams in local communities to seek out possible contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and offer antigen rapid diagnostic tests.