The huge lack of testing in many African countries has prevented workers from tracking the pandemic, raising fears that the recent increase in cases across the continent could be just the tip of the iceberg, according to the International Rescue Committee.
Each country in Africa where the committee works has conducted fewer 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), Chad (383 tests per million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (467 tests per million) and Burundi (563 tests per million) as the lowest test rates among the African countries where he works.
The organization said many African countries needed international support to increase their testing capacity, or the continent could face “undetected and uncontrolled proliferation – and a reaction fighting with a hand tied behind its back.”
“The lack of tests makes it almost impossible to understand the extent of the pandemic – let alone introduce measures to stop it,” said Stacy Myrnes, senior technical adviser on emergency health at the commission.
Reports 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.