As many as 190,000 people across Africa could die in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic if crucial containment measures fail, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.
The WHO warning comes as the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, with others including South Africa and Ivory Coast, have begun relaxing some of their lockdown measures, reports the BBC.
The UN health body’s estimates were based on prediction modelling, and focus on 47 countries in the WHO African region – Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti are not included.
Across the whole of the African continent, more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths have been recorded by Africa’s Centre for Disease Control.
By comparison, 140,000 have died in Western Europe, where the virus took hold several weeks earlier.
“It likely will smoulder in transmission hot spots,” the BBC quoted WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti as saying in a statement.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region.
“We need to test, trace, isolate and treat,” Moeti added.