More than 10,000 health workers in 40 African countries have been infected with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.
The pandemic is gathering pace in Africa, with some 750,000 cases and more than 15,000 deaths across the continent, according to the WHO.
“The growth we are seeing is placing an ever peg eater strain on health services across the continent,’’ WHO Africa Director, Matshidiso Moeti, said.
“This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them,’’ Moeti added.
Information on health worker infections in Africa is limited, with not all nations reporting statistics to the WHO.
But preliminary data shows that health workers make up more than five per cent of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Health workers are infected due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as weak prevention and control measures, according to Moeti.
Surging global demand for protective gear and global travel restrictions has caused supply shortages, the WHO said.
However, 41 million items of protective equipment are ready to be shipped from China to cover the needs of 47 African countries, with shipments planned to start this weekend.
Only 16 per cent of 30,000 clinics and hospitals across the continent, the WHO assessed, had sufficient infection prevention and control measures.
Many health centres lack the infrastructure necessary to prevent overcrowding, the WHO also said.
Only less than eight per cent had isolation capacities, and just a third had the capacity to triage patients.