Health

COVID-19: Africa records over 3 million cases as second wave sweeps fast

The second wave of the coronavirus is spreading swiftly in Africa, a continent once perceived as one of the relatively safest places when speaking of the deadly virus.

Africa passed the milestone of 3 million confirmed cases COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 72, 000 people have also died of coronavirus infections in Africa since Egypt became the first country in the continent to confirm a coronavirus case about 11 months ago, data from the Africa CDC revealed Sunday.

The death toll includes the former president of the Republic of the Congo, Jacques Joachim Yhombi-Opango; Somalia’s former prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari among a host of other prominent people.

Countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Libya, Kenya, Algeria and Nigeria are seeing a sharp rise in cases and are reporting near record levels of infection.

Quick measures, including travel restrictions and border closures, enabled countries in Africa to limit the spread when first cases were reported in March. But the economic impact of the measures prompted governments to ease them.

As people relax their guards and ditch social distancing measures, infections have spiked.

According to a Reuters analysis, Africa has reported over 500, 000 new cases in the past one month, nearly 20 per cent of its reported total of over 3 million cases.

But despite crossing the grim milestone, Africa is the least affected region so far, accounting for only about 5 per cent of global cases.

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide also surpassed 90 million on Sunday morning, about a year since the highly infectious disease began spreading around the globe.

The grim milestone was reached as many countries commenced coronavirus vaccination to get as much of its people vaccinated in record time.

COVID-19, the potentially dangerous pneumonia-like disease caused by the coronavirus and said to have emanated from a local Wuhan market to spread to over 200 countries, has claimed more than 1.9 million lives, according to data from worldometer.info.

Though the tally in Africa is still relatively low compared to global figures, it has raised concern on whether the continent can withstand an uptick infection as seen in Europe and America.

The World Health Organization officials said the statistics are likely to significantly underestimate the true number of cases in Africa, raising concerns that the contagion would soon overwhelm the continent’s under-resourced health services.

As of the time of filing this report, the number of coronavirus infections in Africa were 3,021,769, according to the African CDC.

The spread in infections has led to the death of 72, 121, the data showed.

Meanwhile, 2,450,492 have recovered after treatment in the continent of over a billion people.

South Africa, with more than 1.2 million reported cases, including over 33, 000 deaths, accounts for more than 30 per cent of the total for the continent of 54 countries.ADVERTISEMENT

Health experts say the high proportion of cases in South Africa, could be because the country carries out more tests than many other African countries.

South Africa is the 16th most affected country globally and the worst hit in Africa.

Nigeria is the 9th most affected African country by the coronavirus after South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Libya, Kenya and Algeria.

Also on Sunday, Nigeria reported from 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 1, 024 new cases pushing the total number of infections in the country to 100, 087.

This is coming about 11 months after the country recorded its first infection in an Italian traveler on February 27, 2020.

Chad, Sudan, Liberia, Niger, Egypt, Mali, Angola, Burkina Faso and Tanzania are among African countries seeing a growing increase daily increase in the number of fatalities, according to the African CDC.

More than two-thirds African countries are currently implementing entry and exit restrictions, requiring COVID-19 testing and test certificates at their airports.

Concerns seem to have shifted from the daily rise of infections in Africa to the economic downturn, plummeting oil and commodity prices and an imploding tourism sector occasioned by the several restrictions put in place earlier to contain the disease.

The virus has spread to all 54 countries in the continent, stretching already fragile healthcare systems and crippling economies.

The pandemic has triggered the continent’s first recession in 25 years, according to the World Bank.

Thousands of workers have been rendered redundant with several businesses closing up.

About 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa due to the impact of the contagion, according to an African Union (AU) study.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producers Nigeria and Angola alone could lose $65 billion in income, the report indicated.

In a bid to salvage their economies, several African countries have continued to ease lockdown measures, despite increasing levels of infection and a general lack of testing capacity across the region.

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