GENEVA (Reuters) – Africa can still contain the outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, a senior World Health Organization official said on Friday.

“I believe that African countries can achieve a lot more than maybe people outside expect,” Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, told a virtual news briefing.

“We don’t believe the disease has passed the capacity to be contained,” he said. He was speaking after the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa said the pandemic will likely kill at least 300,000 Africans and risks pushing 29 million into extreme poverty.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields; Editing by Chris Reese)