More than 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Africa since the start of the pandemic, according to an AFP tally compiled from official records as of yesterday evening.
The 54 countries of the region may not have suffered as badly as other parts of the world — at least according to the officially recorded figures. They seem to have avoided the catastrophic scenarios some feared at the start of the pandemic.
But Africa, home to more than 1.3 billion people, has still recorded a total of 200,254 deaths since the virus emerged in China in December 2019.
The worldwide total stands at more than 4.57 million.
After several deadly months, including some 27,000 deaths in July and 26,000 in August, the pandemic appears to be easing on the continent, with current daily figures of 617 compared to as many as 990 in late July, a record for the region.
The figures are based on tolls communicated daily day by health authorities in each country or by the United Nations (UN’s) World Health Organisation (WHO) and include the countries of North Africa.
The WHO has said that if excess deaths directly or indirectly linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) are taken into account, the real toll could be two or three times higher.
The total number of infections is also likely to be an under-estimate, given insufficient testing capacity in Africa.
“It’s probably a lot higher than that,” said researcher Glenda Davidson of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula University of Technology. “Testing resources are very low on the continent.”
Death registration processes were often delayed and inaccurate, she added.
The current drop in the continent’s tally is a result of declining numbers in the hardest-hit countries.
South Africa has recorded 83,899 deaths so far. But last week’s daily average of 7,400 new cases and 234 deaths is significantly lower than in late July, when the daily average was as many as 20,000 new cases and 420 deaths.
The decrease has been even more striking in Tunisia, which has recorded a daily average of 1,680 cases and 64 deaths: declines of 41 per cent and 39 per cent respectively from the previous week.