As confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent reach one million, African leaders must take concrete measures to improve and strengthen testing and treatment capacity, and the international community should support countries to tackle the pandemic, Amnesty International said today.
South Africa is the worst-hit country, with over 500,000 confirmed cases.
“The one million figure is a grim reality for the African continent and one that must spur urgent action from regional and international institutions and leaders alike. Transparency, testing, treatment, and containment measures all need to be urgently improved,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for East and Southern Africa.
“We are concerned that in some countries, including South Africa which accounts for over half of confirmed cases in Africa, test results are taking a dangerously long time to be released. Testing capacity must be significantly improved and strengthened, to ensure that people who may have COVID-19 receive adequate health care and that they are not unwittingly passing on the virus.”
According to the African Union's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is currently at 1,007,366, while 22,066 deaths have been registered. The number of recoveries is at 690,436. However, experts have warned that these numbers could be a significant underestimate, owing to a lack of testing capacity across the continent, with some countries not having enough resources to conduct tests. Other barriers such as poor infrastructure, including roads and the lack of enough hospitals and healthcare workers have been cited as hampering the fight against COVID-19.
“With cases increasing sharply, it is important for countries to work together through regional and international cooperation to ensure that human rights, including the right to health, are guaranteed for all people across Africa. This collaboration should include greater transparency and accountability by governments to establish the true magnitude of the pandemic and the appropriate response, to turn the tide on this crisis,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty International's Director for West and Central Africa.
“There is also a need for increased transparency and accountability around the use of financial resources amid reports of corruption and mismanagement of resources allocated for COVID-19. Countries must also strengthen health systems as they continue to respond to the mounting cases.”