Health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived Thursday in Johannesburg to help bolster that country’s coronavirus response.
“At the request of the South African government, our experts will be embedded with the national response teams, working closely with local public health officials to address some of the urgent challenges the country is currently facing,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.
The WHO surge team went into quarantine in line with South Africa’s regulations after arriving.
South Africa has recorded 529,877 cases, including 9,298 deaths and 377,266 recoveries, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
With a population of more than 57 million, the country has conducted 3,113,191 tests, according to data from the health ministry.
The UN health agency said it is expanding support to countries experiencing a significant uptick in infections as the continent near 1 million cases.
It said the WHO and other UN agencies have formed a global procurement consortium that leverages networks, expertise, and product knowledge to support countries that have limited access to markets to help meet the demand for essential medical equipment across Africa.
“As the impact of the virus intensifies in several hotspots in Africa, so too are WHO’s efforts,” said Moeti.
“Lack of testing is leading to some under-reporting of COVID-19 cases and preventing us from understanding the full picture of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” she said. “We need to turn this around so countries can calibrate their response, ensuring it is most effective, and as cases move into the hinterlands, testing must be decentralized from the capital cities.”
There are more than 992,000 confirmed cases on the continent - with an excess of 671,000 recoveries and greater than 21,000 deaths, according to the WHO.