The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has urged African governments to rapidly scale up surveillance, testing, contact tracing and care for people with COVID-19 amid rapid spread of the virus across the continent.
The Africa CDC, a specialised healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, made the urgent call in its latest Public Health and Social Measure Implementation in Africa report that was published on Wednesday, which analysed major trends in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Africa during the past week.
According to the report, the number of new COVID-19 reported cases decreased by 23 percent during the past week when compared to the previous week, while new deaths increased by 10 percent in the same timeframe, consistent with the lag in mortality typically seen with COVID-19.
Amid the spread of the report across the continent, the Africa CDC also stressed that "governments should continue efforts to rapidly scale up surveillance, testing, contact tracing and care for people with COVID-19, collaborating with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa".
It also called on African governments to prevent stigmatization surrounding COVID-19 and encourage people to seek care, increase community engagement efforts.
"Much of the recent decline in new cases and increase in new deaths can be attributed to South Africa, where data indicates the epidemic may be peaking in provinces hit earliest by COVID-19," the report read.
The report also stressed that the number of tests performed per positive case has remained low, at around 6 tests per case, indicating cases are "likely going undetected."
Meanwhile, the report also noted that tests per case has remained stable or decreasing over the past month-indicating the decrease in new cases may be due to actual epidemiologic trends, not simply poor testing.
"Low tests per case ratios, which indicates poor testing capacity, signals that many cases are likely not being detected, such as Algeria, the Democratic Republic Congo, Egypt, Madagascar, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan," the report read, adding that reported decreases in new cases "should be interpreted with caution in many countries."
The report also noted that traditional media and social media users have continued to criticise governments for implementing public health and social measures through force in some countries, and others report of police brutality.
On Wednesday, the Africa CDC disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,136,246 as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 26,289.
The continental disease control and prevention agency also said the number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections is also increasing, as the number of recoveries reached 859,488 as of Wednesday.
South Africa currently has the most COVID-19 cases, which hit 592,144. The country also has the highest COVID-19 related deaths, with the death toll currently standing at 12,264, according to the Africa CDC.
Egypt came next with 96,753 COVID-19 cases and 5,184 COVID-19 related deaths followed by Nigeria which has so far recorded 49,895 COVID-19 cases and 981 deaths, it was noted.
The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, according to the Africa CDC.