Africa’s CDC Urges Continent to Ramp-Up Rapid Covid-19 Testing
Africa CDC Urges Continent to Ramp-Up Rapid Covid-19 Testing
African countries need to start widely using rapid antigen tests to take advantage of lulls in the pandemic and quickly react to any small, local Covid-19 outbreaks, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are at a trough in the number of infections, so I am appealing for the continent to scale up testing and to scale up vaccinations,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said in a briefing Thursday. “If we vaccinate now intensely, we can blunt the next wave and if we test now we can find hotspots before it flares back up.”
Nkengasong called on African countries to gather information that will help them make informed decisions early on, before a need for further harsh lockdowns. He urged South Africa, which held local elections this week, to start the process.
“You just say, okay, elections were conducted and people were probably not respecting basic public health measures, let’s just increase the amount of testing,” he said. “If you do that using the rapid antigen tests, you’ll find the hotspots very early.”
In the coming weeks, the Africa CDC will launch a “vast campaign of extensive testing” using PCR, or rapid antigen tests, he said. It plans to get these to about 200,000 people across the continent in the next six months.
“Each time we offer the virus a chance to spread, it will spread,” he said. “Now we have the tools of antigen tests and vaccines, let’s use them.”
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