There are now more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Africa and every country in the continent has at least one case, according to the WHO.
Despite the grim milestone, the WHO said the pandemic that has “struck with such devastating force in much of the world, appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa.”
“Case numbers have not grown at the same exponential rate as in other regions and so far Africa has not experienced the high mortality seen in some parts of the world. Today, there are 3100 confirmed deaths on the continent,” according to the WHO.
An early analysis by the WHO suggests that Africa has fared better than other countries possibly because of its younger demographic. Africa is the youngest continent with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. In Europe, nearly 95% of the deaths have occurred in those older than 60.
“For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”
Even with the relatively lower numbers, the WHO warned that the pandemic was still a major threat to the continent’s health systems. A new modeling study by WHO predicts that if containment measures fail, even with a lower number of cases requiring hospitalization than elsewhere, the medical capacity in much of Africa would be overwhelmed.