Africa surpasses a million coronavirus cases

Friday August 7 2020

covid

Mourners attend the funeral of a Covid-19 victim in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 26, 2020. Marco Longari | Afp  

By AFP

Coronavirus has now infected more than a million people in Africa, but hopes that the pandemic may be peaking in some countries are also leavened by fear of a second wave.

Nations across the continent have recorded 1,000,054 infections and at least 21,724 deaths, accounting for around five percent of global cases, according to an AFP tally as of Thursday.

Just five countries account for 75 percent of all cases in Africa, the continent's health watchdog, the Africa Centres for Diseases Control, says.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday some countries have recently seen declines of around 20 percent in daily cases but it was too early to confirm this as a trend, while around 10 countries are still experiencing increases.

Countries with high infections relative to the size of their populations are South Africa, Djibouti, Gabon, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.

Here is an overview of key countries:

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South Africa

The continent's most industrialised economy has notched up more than 529,000 infections, 53 percent of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest in the world.

The good news is that numbers of daily infections have slightly decreased in recent days to below 10,000 cases compared to an average 12,000 during much of July.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that cases in the epicentre, the commercial hub of Gauteng province, appeared to be plateauing.

But he warned the risk of a second wave remained: "we are not out of the woods yet".

South Africa imposed one of the world's toughest lockdowns in March, including a ban on sales of alcohol and cigarettes. The restrictions have been progressively eased since June.

The country has some of the best healthcare facilities on the continent, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week deployed 43 experts to "strengthen" the nation's response to the pandemic.

Among its problems: more than 24,000 health workers have been infected -- a tally bigger than the national caseload of many other African countries.

Egypt

Egypt became the first African country to report a coronavirus case on February 14. So far, it has officially registered the continent's second highest number of cases, with 95,000, including 4,630 deaths.

Numbers of daily new infections have recently been falling steadily. From an average of 1,500 previously, new cases plunged below 200 this week.

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