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Africa CDC director emphasizes need to redouble Africa's COVID-19 testing capacity

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:42, September 14, 2020

ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has urged the African continent to augment COVID-19 testing capacity so as to effectively contain the spread of the virus across the continent.

The urgent call was made by John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, as he emphasized if Africa is to effectively tone down the spread of the virus in the near future, the continent needs to boost its testing capabilities.

"Testing is the cornerstone of response to this pandemic, without testing we will be fighting blindly. But the testing strategy must shift as countries unlock their economies," an Africa CDC statement issued on late Saturday quoted Nkengasong as saying.

"We need to scale up testing and we need to improve the turnaround time for testing so that we can quickly identify, isolate and treat positive cases," the Africa CDC director added.

As of Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,346,658 as the death toll rose to 32,502. The number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections also reached 1,083,438 so far, according to the Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission.

Amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Africa, the continental disease control and prevention agency had recently commended the progress in the development of COVID-19 vaccine across Africa.

Speaking exclusive to Xinhua recently, Nkengasong said the African continent "is very active in the vaccine space because we know that it is one of the tools and instruments that are going to actually be determinant in terms of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."

"In terms of vaccine development, Africa is not just sitting idle. We are making very good progress. We are now developing a continental strategy for vaccine, a framework that will guide vaccine development and access efforts in Africa," Nkengasong told Xinhua.

Noting that the number of COVID-19 testing in Africa is "encouraging" as more than 11 million people have been tested so far, the director, however, stressed that African countries still need to intensify their testing capabilities.

Nkengasong also emphasized that as a continent Africa needs to conduct about 15 million tests per month to be ahead of the pandemic.

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