The World Health Organisation warns that up to 190,000 people in Africa could die of coronavirus in 2010, if containment measures fail.
The UN health agency cited a new study by its regional office in Brazzaville which found that between 83,000 and 190,000 could die and 29 to 44 million be infected during the period.
In a statement on Thursday, the WHO said the research is based on prediction modeling and covers 47 countries with a total population of one billion.
“The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world,” the statement said.
“The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years.”
WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said “while COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder in transmission hotspots”.
“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,” he added. “We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”
Smaller countries as well as Algeria, South Africa and Cameroon were at particularly high risk unless effective containment measures were in force, the WHO said.
An AFP tally says Africa has so far recorded 53,334 cases and 2,065 fatalities, out of a global death toll of nearly 267,000.