Report: More than 300,000 could die from coronavirus in Africa this year

Report: More than 300,000 could die from coronavirus in Africa this year

A new report from the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says that the continent of around 1.3 billion people could see as many as 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the best-case scenario.

It says in the worst-case scenario, where there is no intervention against the outbreak, as many as 3.3 million people could die, with 1.2 billion — the vast majority of Africa's population — contracting the disease, The Associated Press reports.

Even with “intense social distancing," according to the report, Africa could still see 122 million cases of the virus that has killed over 146,000 people worldwide.

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UNECA estimates that anywhere from $44 billion to $446 billion will be needed for testing in the continent that is home to many underfunded health systems.

The U.N. report also states, “Of all the continents Africa has the highest prevalence of certain underlying conditions, like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.” 

People with underlying conditions are particularly susceptible to fatal complications from the virus, along with the other at-risk demographic: the elderly.

The report also warns that widespread economic failure could occur in Africa, with the worst-case scenario reportedly contracting the continent's growth by 2.6 percent, while pushing an estimated 27 million people extreme poverty.

Earlier this week, nearly two dozen European and African countries called for a moratorium on all African debt payments and asked for at least $100 billion in immediate financial aid to the continent.

On Thursday, John Nkengasong — head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — told reporters that as many as 15 million coronavirus tests would be needed in Africa in the next three months, according to the AP.