Over 12 million COVID-19 tests conducted by African countries amid call to intensify testing
As of Sunday, more than 12 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted across the African continent with a 10 percent positivity rate.
According to the latest figures from the Africa CDC, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,346,658 as of Sunday.
The number of deaths due to illnesses related to the virus also rose to 32,502 so far.
The number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections also reached 1,083,438 so far, according to the Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the AU Commission said.
The Africa CDC also noted that ten countries account for 81 percent of the new COVID-19 cases reported during the past week, which include South Africa at 22 percent, Morocco at 21 percent, Ethiopia at 14 percent, Libya at 10 percent, Algeria 4 percent, as well as Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Tunisia and Egypt at 2 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Africa CDC has urged the African continent to augment COVID-19 testing capacity so as to effectively contain the spread of the virus across the continent.
The urgent call was made by John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, as he emphasized if Africa is to effectively tone down the spread of the virus in the near future, the continent needs to boost its testing capabilities.
"Testing is the cornerstone of response to this pandemic, without testing we will be fighting blindly. But the testing strategy must shift as countries unlock their economies," an Africa CDC statement issued on late Saturday quoted Nkengasong as saying.
"We need to scale up testing and we need to improve the turnaround time for testing so that we can quickly identify, isolate, and treat positive cases," the Africa CDC director added.
Amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Africa, the continental disease control and prevention agency had recently commended the progress in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine across Africa.
Speaking exclusively to Xinhua recently, Nkengasong said the African continent "is very active in the vaccine space because we know that it is one of the tools and instruments that are going to actually be determinant in terms of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
"In terms of vaccine development, Africa is not just sitting idle. We are making very good progress. We are now developing a continental strategy for the vaccine, a framework that will guide vaccine development and access efforts in Africa," Nkengasong told Xinhua.
Nkengasong also emphasized that as a continent Africa needs to conduct about 15 million tests per month to be ahead of the pandemic.