The COVID-19 pandemic will likely kill at least 300,000 Africans and risks pushing 29 million into extreme poverty, a United Nations agency said on Friday.

The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa – known as the UNECA – is calling for a $100 billion dollar safety net for the continent, but the head of the United Nations said much more was needed.

Although Africa’s 54 countries have so far reported fewer than 20,000 confirmed cases, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday that Africa could see as many as 10 million cases in three to six months.

Most of Africa has already mandated social distancing measures, ranging from curfews and travel guidelines in some countries to full lockdowns in others.

But combating the disease is complicated by the fact that 36% of Africans have no access to household washing facilities.

The continent also counts just 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people AND it imports 94% of its pharmaceuticals.

The health crisis could also shrink the continent’s economy – pushing tens of millions of people into extreme poverty.

Nigeria alone will lose up to around $19 billion dollars in revenues from oil exports this year.

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