Africa sees 43 percent jump in coronavirus cases in last week

Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in African nations have spiked 43 percent after the continent was largely spared from the initial wave of the virus that spread across Europe and Asia.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Thursday that the continent is “very, very limited” and “very, very strained” in its testing capacity, The Associated Press reported.

Nkengasong warned that the surge in infections was likely higher than official statistics due to the lack of testing. His comments came after a World Health Organization (WHO) report warned the continent could reach 10 million cases in six months.

“This is still to be fine-tuned,” Michel Yao, head of emergency operations for WHO Africa, told a media teleconference last week, according to al-Jazeera. “It’s difficult to make a long-term estimation because the context changes too much and also public health measures, when they are fully implemented, they can actually have an impact.”

Modeling from Imperial College London released around the same time indicated the continent could see 300,000 deaths in a best-case scenario and 3.3 million deaths and close to 1.2 billion infections — the vast majority of people on the continent — with no interventions, according to the news outlet.

South Africa, which has seen 3,465 confirmed cases, second only to Egypt on the continent, has already imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, only allowing health care workers, financial services providers, journalists and retail workers to leave for work and requiring special permits for businesses seeking to be deemed essential services, according to the BBC.

Jogging, dog-walking and leaving home for nonessential trips are all banned under penalty of prison or heavy fines under the country’s restrictions, which took effect March 27.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Wednesday that more than 70,000 extra troops will be deployed to enforce the lockdown, the largest military deployment since the end of apartheid.

Tags Africa Coronavirus Coronavirus testing South Africa WHO World Health Organization

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