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Global report: WHO official says no large hidden toll in Africa

The World Health Organization has said it does not believe African countries are harbouring a significant number of unrecorded coronavirus infections, though it said there may be underestimates in some places.

Africa has reported 416,063 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,297 deaths, according to a Reuters tally based on government statistics and WHO data.

“We think that there is a certain underestimation of cases,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the health body’s regional director, adding that the WHO was working with countries to improve their surveillance.

The comments echoed similar remarks Moeti made in June where she said that while the disease was spreading beyond capital cities and a lack of tests and other supplies was hampering responses, cases were not being missed.

The African Union said African countries had lost almost $55bn in travel and tourism revenues in three months of the pandemic. Its commissioner for infrastructure and energy, Amani Abou-Zeid, said: “Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-Covid-19.”

More than 10.73 million people have been reported to be infected with coronavirus globally, and 515,893 have died. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Amid continuing serious flare-ups of the virus in a number of countries that thought they had brought their outbreaks under control, the pandemic continues to depress economic activity and confound governments.

In India, coronavirus infections passed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths. A new phase of lockdown easing, called Unlock 2, was announced on Monday, but on Wednesday the western state of Maharashtra reported a record jump of 5,537 coronavirus infections, prompting authorities to again impose stringent measures in areas around the financial capital, Mumbai.

Indonesia on Thursday reported 1,624 coronavirus infections, its biggest jump in new cases since the epidemic began. It brought the total number of infections to 59,394, as fatalities reached 2,987.

In Sweden, cases surpassed 70,000 after another 947 recorded infections, eclipsing rates elsewhere in the EU, although deaths and hospitalisations have tumbled from peaks in April.

The country adopted a softer approach to fighting the coronavirus, spurning a hard lockdown, which put its pandemic strategy in the international spotlight.

Sweden’s death toll has been many times higher, relative to the size of the population, than that of its Nordic neighbours, where authorities took a stricter approach, but lower than in some countries that locked down such as Britain, Italy and Spain.

New cases in Tokyo surged to a two-month high as Japan faced the prospect of a second wave. The capital confirmed 107 more infections on Thursday, many in young adults who had visited entertainment venues, officials said.

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