This December, numerous individuals held gatherings in their homes to celebrate Christmas. Because of this, African officials across the world warned of a resurgence of COVID-19 in Africa. Most officials urged countries with extra testing kits to assist as increased testing had to be done to combat and detect new virus cases.
Virus Cases Low in Africa Because of Low Testing
The African continent houses up to about 1.3 billion people. So far, the continent constitutes about 3.3% of the global total of confirmed coronavirus infections. But experts believe that this is just a fraction of Africa’s actual cases as there are barely any means to test infections. Health experts state that the level of testing in Africa is considerably lower than what is needed to control the spread of COVID-19 effectively.
When the pandemic began, only two African countries out of 54 countries had the capability to test for COVID-19 infections. These countries had the laboratories needed to test for the disease and provide accurate results. But as the months went by, other African counties acquired means to carry out COVID-19 tests. Cumulatively countries in Africa have so far carried out at least 25 million COVID-19 tests. According to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this figure increased drastically in two months, with a 3% increase.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Africa had small amounts of testings being done across the continent. But the increased testing across the continent greatly assisted in progressing Africa’s control and awareness. As months elapsed and with different countries already developing vaccines, the distribution of tests has been very uneven. Just around ten countries have been carrying out about 70% of Africa’s testing. The countries include Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Morocco.
Christmas Holidays in Africa
Recently African officials have pleaded with other nations elsewhere to assist with any testing means available. Africa needs increased testing because many believe that with numerous individuals traveling during the holidays, the rate of infections increased. Many African countries now require a means to locate where the virus cases rose and places needing additional medial response. The tests would also indicate where vaccines would go as a priority if and when they would be available.
During the Christmas holidays, many individuals across Africa travel into rural areas to be with their families. But most rural areas in different parts across Africa have fewer testing means than in cities where most clinics and hospitals are located. Some developing countries asked wealthier nations to provide them with rapid antigen tests. Health experts believe these tests have the ability to drastically boost the testing ability in Africa’s remote rural areas.
Rapid antigen tests search for antigens. or proteins located on the exterior of the coronavirus. The rapid antigen tests are less accurate than the PCR tests, which are higher-grade genetic tests. But despite them being less precise, the antigen tests provide faster results than the PCR tests. The PCR tests require processing with special lab equipment and chemicals, which can take several days to get results. But the antigen tests provide results at the site of testing in less than 30 minutes.
Using the rapid antigen tests, many Africans across the continent believe they will acquire a means to test more broadly. Many remote areas with no testing done, especially during the holiday period, will receive the means to do so.