About 91 per cent of Covid-19 infection in Sub-Saharan Africa are among people below 60 years, and over 80 per cent of cases are asymptomatic.
The continent has been marked by relatively fewer infections, which have been on the decline over the past two months.
The pandemic has largely been in a younger age group and has been more pronounced in a few countries, suggesting country-specific aspects are driving the pattern of disease and death, the WHO has said as it explained why the Covid-19 doom prophesied over Africa failed to materialise.
“A mix of socio-ecological factors such as low population density and mobility, hot and humid climate, lower age group, interacting to accentuate their individual effects, are likely contributing to the pattern seen in Africa,” the WHO Africa said in a statement.
By September 25, Kenya’s caseload stood at 37,489, with 669 deaths. Acting health director general Patrick Amoth says Kenya’s Covid-19 mortality rate stands at 1.8 per cent, with 93 per cent of patients being asymptomatic.
In Africa, the most-affected countries include Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. Deaths due to Covid-19 have remained low in the region.
“The downward trend that we have seen in Africa over the past two months is undoubtedly a positive development and speaks to the robust and decisive public health measures taken by governments across the region,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
“But we must not become complacent. Other regions of the world have experienced similar trends, only to find that as social and public health measures are relaxed, cases start ramping up again.”
She said, the region’s statistics on testing have been useful for policy as they reflect the patterns of infection within a country, and the missed Covid-19 cases are largely because they are asymptomatic.
In addition, there is no evidence of miscalculation of death figures, which are more difficult to miss statistically.
“Africa has not witnessed an exponential spread of Covid-19 as many initially feared,” said Dr Moeti.
“But the slower spread of infection in the region means we expect the pandemic to continue to smoulder for some time, with occasional flare-ups.”
Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference. She was joined by Prof Francisca Mutapi, from the University of Edinburgh, Mark Woolhouse, also from the University of Edinburgh and Dr Sam Agatre Okuonzi, from the Arua Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda.
Separately, Amoth said it is too early for Kenyans to celebrate. He said Kenyans should be on the alert for the next wave of Covid-19.
He, however, assured that in case of a new wave, Kenya is prepared to handle it, having put the right health infrastructure in place.