Covid-19: Tracking Africa’s cases

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ADDIS ABABA, April 3 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Less than two months after Egypt became the first country in Africa to confirm a coronavirus case, the outbreak appears to have reached almost every nation on the continent of 1.2 billion people.

Of Africa’s 54 countries, only five have yet to report a case of the virus: Comoros, Lesotho, Sao Tome and Principe, Malawi and South Sudan.

More than 200 people on the world’s second-most populous continent have died from the virus, including the former president of the Republic of the Congo, Jacques Joachim Yhombi-Opango, and Somalia’s former prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein. At least 5,820 people have been infected with 441 recovered from the virus.

Experts warn fragile healthcare systems in many African could be overwhelmed in the face of a severe outbreak of COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

In March, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on African leaders to take seriously the threat from the virus.

“Africa should wake up, my continent should wake up,” the Ethiopian, the WHO’s first African head, said.

Countries are rushing to stem the spread of the disease. According to WHO, only two countries could carry out COVID-19 tests at the beginning of the outbreak. Six weeks later, 47 countries can perform the test.

Most nations have shut their borders, closed schools and banned public gatherings to combat the virus.

To help the continent cope with the pandemic, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, called on G20 countries to extend Africa a $150bn aid package.

Meanwhile, Kenya will receive $50m from the World Bank to fund efforts intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe has said the amount will be used to procure protective gear for health workers, hand sanitisers as well as increasing bed capacity in hospitals.

Health workers have complained of a lack of adequate protective gear in hospitals, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reports.

The health ministry has confirmed that one health worker has tested positive – with local media reporting it had happened after the person came into contact with an infected patient.

Health workers’ union leaders have said medics need more protective gear and urged the government to supplement local production by waving import duty on materials needed to do so.

Kenya’s first coronavirus patient, who has since recovered, lauded health workers who handled her, saying they did well despite the challenges. — NNN-AGENCIES