A severe lack of testing in many African countries has left officials unable to pursue the pandemic, prompting fears that a recent rise in cases across the continent could be just the “tip of the iceberg”, according to International Rescue Committee.
Each country in Africa where the committee works has conducted less than 8,000 tests per million people, the group said. In contrast, Britain conducted 205,782 tests per million, the United Arab Emirates 472,590 per million and Singapore 199,904 per million, the committee said.
The committee cited Tanzania (63 tests per million), Niger (373 tests per million), Adad (383 tests per million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (467 tests per million) and Burundi (563 tests per million) as the lowest testing rates among African countries where she works.
The committee, a global humanitarian aid organization, said testing in many African countries was falling much faster than the level of at least one test per 1,000 people a week recommended by the World Health Organization.
The organization said many African nations needed international support to increase their testing capacity or the continent could face “an undiscovered and uncontrolled spread – and a response by fighting with one hand tied behind the back.”
“The lack of testing makes it almost impossible to understand the extent of the pandemic – let alone measures to stop it,” Stacey Mearns, a senior technical health adviser on the committee, said in a statement.
Reporting contributed by Liz Alderman, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Kate Conger, Robert Gebeloff, Michael Levenson, Eshe Nelson, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Matt Phillips, Austin Ramzy, Motoko Rich, Eliza Shapiro, Katie Thomas, Neil Vigdor, Mihir Zaveri.