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MBABANE – Experts have warned that African countries are yet to witness a peak of coronavirus as the disease is yet to seed into different communities.

This is according to Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) Dr John Nkengasong during a discussion on the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, and coordination efforts with national governments on the continent.
Dr Nkengasong told the world on Thursday that in the next three to four weeks countries would begin to see a clearer picture of where the virus was taking them.


He said the virus was yet to penetrate the most vulnerable populations in slums around capital cities, or even expand to remote areas.
“There are three things that we have to project for Africa.  One is that this becomes a mild pandemic, and second is that it’s a moderate pandemic, and lastly, it’s a severe pandemic,” he said.

The medical expert added that the second aspect was that it was not clear what role co-morbidity would play. 
“We have so many people in several parts of Africa; depending on which country is infected with malaria, Tuberculosis, or HIV.

‘‘We have a large number of our population that is malnourished, so we just don’t know how these factors will play into the dynamics and the projection of COVID-19.”

Dr Nkengasong was responding to a question posed by Sarah Nanjala, a journalist from the Daily Nation in Kenya.
Nanjala’s question was, ‘When do you project will be the peak infection cases and deaths in African countries, and what are the highest risk factors for African countries in combating COVID-19’?


Dr Nkengasong highlighted that Africa’s population was fairly young, with at least 70 per cent aged less than 30 years.
He said this could be a factor. 

“You’re beginning to see also in the United States that young people – a good number of young people – are in hospitals, and require oxygen support and other services there.  So we are still early.”

The discussion was moderated by Marissa Scott, the Director of the Africa Regional Media Hub.
Also participating was Dr Meredith McMorrow, Medical Officer in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division.
The experts were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Pretoria, South Africa.

Dr Kevin Makadzange, from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Eswatini, said WHO worked closely with Africa CDC and CDC Atlanta in terms of compiling and sharing information.

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