The World Health Organization reported Friday that COVID-19 cases in Africa have increased 51 percent and deaths have jumped 60 percent.
Speaking at a conference in Geneva, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said the figures could be even higher if testing were adequate.
As of Friday, according to official figures, Algeria, with more than 360 deaths so far, is the African country with the highest number of fatalities. Egypt comes in second with more than 200. Morocco has reported 135 deaths and South Africa 50.
African countries have confirmed a total of 19,334 infections since the virus emerged in China in late December.
Although, so far, Africa has suffered less than other regions from COVID-19, health officials fear the situation is deteriorating.
Tedros also addressed the issue of reopening so-called wet markets, open-air marketplaces almost everywhere in the world where vendors sell fresh meat, fish, produce and other perishable goods.
“Wet markets, as you know, are an important source of affordable food and livelihood for millions of people all over the world,” he said. “But in many places, they have been poorly regulated and poorly maintained. WHO’s position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen, it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards. Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.”
Although the origin of COVID-19 is yet to be determined, some scientists suspect the virus was transmitted to humans from animals at a wet market in Wuhan, China.