Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
Seven African countries will start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week, a regional body said on Thursday, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent.
"Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco are the first set of countries that committed to it," said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Addis Ababa.
Western governments are using antibody tests to find out how many of their citizens have been infected, in the hope that will help them reopen their economies.
Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week, Nkengasong said. These tests show whether people currently have COVID-19.
The continent's relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic, but low levels of testing in many countries mean Africa's infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say.
As of Thursday, Africa had recorded more than a 1 million cases of COVID-19 and 24,113 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
Nkengasong said 25 African countries still have full border closures while 23 are imposing testing at entry points.
He stressed the need to harmonize border testing and recognition of certificates in order to facilitate travel.
Amid a torrent of negative and worrisome news related to COVID-19 pandemic globally, Moderna Inc’s claim that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the United States, has produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers injects hope and some relief.
Africa’s health systems are the most poorly funded and thinly staffed in the world, and already more than 2,000 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the WHO.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention has started testing antibodies to the COVID-19 in three affiliated laboratories run by Pure Health under a partnership agreement between the two parties.
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On a quiet road in India's capital, tucked away on a wide, red-bricked sidewalk, kids set adrift by the country's COVID-19 lockdown are being tutored.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved most of New Zealand to the lowest virus alert setting Monday, saying the country was edging towards eliminating Covid-19.