WHO study: Only 1 in 7 COVID-19 cases detected in Africa

WHO study: Only 1 in 7 COVID-19 cases detected in Africa
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The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa released a study Thursday saying only one in seven COVID-19 cases are being detected in Africa.

Using a coronavirus calculator by Resolve to Save Lives, the WHO found only 14.2 percent of cases on the continent were being detected. The calculator found on Oct. 10, there were 59 million coronavirus infections in Africa, far above the 8 million cases recorded. 

To try to find more of the people who have contracted COVID-19, the organization announced a new program in eight countries that will provide as many as 7 million people with rapid diagnostic tests in the next year. 

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The program takes a more active role in providing people tests as most positive cases currently are counted after someone seeks medical attention. 

“With limited testing, we’re still flying blind in far too many communities in Africa. Most tests are carried out on people with symptoms, but much of the transmission is driven by asymptomatic people, so what we see could just be the tip of the iceberg,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said. 

“Test numbers have been rising in Africa, but this community-based initiative is a radically new approach which should help significantly raise detection rates. More testing means rapid isolation, less transmission and more lives saved through targeted action,” Moeti added. 

Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Zambia are the countries participating in the program with the WHO giving each $1.8 million to go into local communities and give them tests.

The program is using the “ring strategy” that was used to combat smallpox.