COVID-19: Despite smaller population, Ghana has tested 7 times more than Nigeria


Despite having smaller populations, Ghana and South Africa have tested at least seven times more people than Nigeria has since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on the continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded its first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria on February 27, 2020. Since then, the virus has spread to over 50 countries on the continent, with over 11,000 cases recorded.

Based on data on Worldometer, Ghana, which recorded its first case on March 12, 2020 — two weeks after Nigeria’s first case — has tested 37,405 people. Nigeria, on the other hand, has tested only 5,000 people.

Ghana has only 28.8 million people, while Nigeria — the most populous country on the continent — has a population of 201 million people, according to the United Nations (UN).

South Africa, with a population of 58.6 million people, has tested 75,053 people since its first case was confirmed on March 5, 2020.

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa head, said at a teleconference last week that there is an urgent need to increase testing in Africa. She suggested that testing be expanded beyond major cities.

But based on data available, Nigeria is among the worst performers in Africa and anywhere in the world — as far as testing is concerned.

The west African giant has tested only 24 people for every one million of its population. This pales in comparison to South Africa, which has tested 1,265 of every one million citizens — or Ghana at 1,204 per one million.


According to Worldometer, only Mozambique and Malawi have tested fewer people per one million than Nigeria has.

Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s health minister, says the country is testing almost 5,000 people per day. This means, South Africa will test in a day or two, what Nigeria has tested in six weeks.

On the global scale, Nigeria’s peer like Brazil — with a population of 211 million — has tested about 63,000 people. Russia, with a population of 145 million people has tested 1.2 million people.

Germany and South Korea, great examples in the management of coronavirus across the world, have tested over 10,000 people for every one million people in their population.

Germany, with a population of 83 million, has tested more than 1.3 million people, while South Korea, with 51 million people, has tested over 514,000 people.

COUNTRY Total Cases Total tests Population (M) Test per 1M population
S. Africa 2,028 75,053 58.6 1,265
Ghana 408 37,405 28.8 1,204
Egypt 1,939 25,000 100.4 244
Tunisia 685 10,676 11.7 903
Morocco 1,617 8,473 36.5 230
Mauritius 319 7,077 1.2 5,565
Kenya 191 6,192 52.6 115
Nigeria 318 5,000 201 24
Uganda 53 4,856 44.3 106


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