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Africa Banks on Aggressive Screening and Testing as Defence against the Coronavirus

After a slow start, a sudden rise of more than 40% in the number of Covid-19 cases on the continent in the last 10 days – to 28,000 – and a similar increase in the number of deaths – to 1,300 – has worried specialists. Though some of the worst effects of infection may be mitigated by the relative youth of many people on the continent, others may be made more vulnerable by malnutrition or existing conditions, such as HIV. Under-resourced health systems are unlikely to cope with a significant surge of those infected by the disease. Provision of intensive care facilities on the continent is grossly inadequate. Many countries with populations numbering tens of millions have only a handful of ventilators. Advisers say that a strategy based on testing allows African countries to minimise lockdowns that inflict enormous hardship on those who depend on income earned each day to be able to feed themselves and their families.