10 countries account for 80% of Africa COVID-19 testing: Africa CDC

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FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Diepsloot
FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Diepsloot

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ten countries account for 80% of the new coronavirus testing taking place across Africa, a regional body said on Thursday, indicating that little testing is taking place in many countries around the vast continent.

COVID-19 confirmed cases across Africa have accelerated and are close to hitting a million this week, and experts say low levels of testing in many countries means infection rates are likely to be higher than reported.

Some governments across the continent are too poor or conflict-ridden to carry out widespread testing, while others are reluctant to share data or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny.

South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius have each conducted more than 200,000 tests, said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So far nearly 9 million tests have been conducted across the continent, up 9.4% from last week's tally.

"This number indicates we reached 90% of our goal for the partnership to accelerate COVID testing," Nkengasong told a virtual news conference.

The regional body said it had supported 14 other countries with an additional 240,000 tests.

(Reporting by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Hugh Lawson)