The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday promised to roll out new rapid tests to diagnose cases of COVID-19 in Africa, one of the regions of the world least affected by the pandemic, according to a statement.
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This deployment “will considerably increase the screening capacity and marks a real turning point in the continent’s fight” against COVID-19, said WHO during a virtual press conference from Brazzaville, its regional headquarters for Africa. .
According to the WHO, “many African countries have struggled to carry out sufficient tests to control the pandemic.”
“Widespread use of high-quality rapid tests in Africa may revolutionize the continent’s response” to the virus, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“The new rapid diagnostic tests based on the detection of the antigen will help meet the huge diagnostic needs in Africa,” she added.
In many African countries, the number of tests is small, limited to large cities and travelers, and the waiting period for results varies from 48 hours to more than ten days, according to the WHO.
“Most African countries are focusing on testing travelers, patients or contacts, and we estimate that a significant number of cases go undetected,” Dr Moeti said.
The new rapid tests “are easy to use, cheaper than PCR tests, and deliver results in just 15 to 30 minutes, allowing countries to decentralize testing,” the organization said.
Africa is one of the regions of the world least affected by the pandemic, according to official statistics.
As of October 21, “+1,600,000 cases of # COVID19 in Africa – with +1,300,000 associated recoveries and 40,000 reported deaths,” the WHO tweeted.