Seven African countries to start testing for virus antibodies

Seven African countries would start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week.
Seven African countries would start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week.
Image: 123rf.com/ betonstudio

Seven African countries would 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 Abab, Ethiopia.

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 had so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week, Nkengasong said. These tests show whether people 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 million cases and 24,113 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Nkengasong said 25 African countries still had full border closures while 23 were imposing testing at entry points.

He stressed the need to harmonise border testing and recognition of certificates to facilitate travel. — Reuters



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