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WHO warns of 'dramatic evolution' of virus in Africa

by AFP
30 Mar 2020 at 08:15hrs | Views
The World Health Organisation's regional director for Africa on Friday warned the continent faced a "dramatic evolution" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 47 countries in the WHO Africa region - which includes sub-Saharan Africa and Algeria - 39 nations are now affected, compared with only one a  month ago, Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti told French television channel France24.

Moeti said there have been about 300 cases per day in recent days, and called for "intensified action by African countries".

"The situation is very worrying, with a dramatic evolution: an increase geographically in the number of countries and also an increase in the number of infections," Moeti said.

Cases have risen across the world's poorest continent over the past week to a total of nearly 3 500 cases and 94 deaths, according to a tally that covers all of Africa. South Africa's confirmed cases of coronavirus increased at a slower rate on Saturday, up by 17 to 1 187 people, the health ministry said, as the country entered the second day of a national lockdown.

In a statement the Ministry of Health however stressed that the slower rate of reported infections did not indicate a reduction in the speed of the outbreak.

"We must outrightly state that these numbers do not indicate a reduction in the number of infections. It is merely a reflection of positive results that were received, verified and ready for today's reporting," the ministry said in a statement.

Since the first positive case was reported on March 5 the rate of infections in South Africa has been exponential, rising from less than 20 two weeks ago to over 1 000, leading President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce a 21-day lockdown to slow the outbreak.

Only one death has been reported in South Africa so far. In a separate statement, police said 55 people around the country had been arrested for contravening the terms of the lockdown. Authorities struggled to enforce the measures, especially in densely populated townships and rural areas, on the first day of the lockdown.

South Africa, the region's most developed economy, has the most infections on the continent and some experts fear the virus may overwhelm the already stretched health sector and test the government's vast social welfare system with the economy having recently slipped into recession.

Source - AFP