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How Africa is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak

African countries have moved from COVID-19 readiness to response as confirmed cases surpass 12,000. 

The Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong, said late march: “If we do not have a continental strategy that enables us to coordinate, collaborate, cooperate effectively and communicate, we are doomed.”

As the coronavirus death related cases keep rising, some countries across Africa have brought in increasingly strict measures to ensure their citizens stay at home. 

52 out of 54 countries have confirmed cases. 

Algeria

Algeria is now the worst affected country. As of April 10, Algeria has 1,666 confirmed cases with 235 deaths. The regime says the pandemic has come at a dreadful time. Shaken by a popular and peaceful movement that has resisted time, divisions, intimidation and a presidential election, the country’s leadership lacks trust – but above all, it lacks the sanitary and economic means to face the disease. The nation has announced a series of measures to fight coronavirus, including tightened restrictions on freedom of movement. The measures include closing nurseries, schools, universities and mosques, as well as shutting land borders, suspending sea and air connections, and banning marches and rallies.

South Africa

South Africa is the most hit in Sub-Saharan Africa, deaths from the virus had risen to 24, with a total of 2003 confirmed cases. South Africa began its lockdown on March 26. The lockdown has been extended by two extra weeks. The main opposition party says the decision to extend South Africa’s lockdown until the end of April will create an economic disaster.

During this period, South African’s leave their homes to seek medical care, buy food or collect a social grant.

All shops and businesses are close, with the exemption of pharmacies, laboratories, banks, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, supermarkets, petrol stations and healthcare providers.

Cameroon

Health workers, emergency personnel and security services go to work, while soldiers have been deployed to patrol the streets in support of the police.

In Cameroon, 12 people have died from COVID-19 and there have been 803 confirmed cases. Cameroon is the highest hit country in Central Africa. Schools closed their doors to all children on Wednesday 18 March. In the regions with confirmed cases, restaurants, snack bars and leisure areas are closed and the government has urged citizens to avoid non-essential travel and contact with other people. This has not deterred crowds from visiting outdoor markets, leading to widespread condemnation.

There are two African countries that have not recorded a case of coronavirus as of April 10. 52 countries have officially recorded cases. The only region with virus-free countries is southern Africa where Comoros and Lesotho have no confirmed cases.

At least five African countries have pardoned inmates in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Morocco has sent prisoners home. Human rights activists in the continent are demanding that the same thing be done in other countries where prisons are still crowded.

As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the continent, Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission Chairperson called on the international community to go beyond “good intentions” and give massive support to Africa, estimating that between “$100 and 150 billion” are needed for the time being.

He told France 24 that widespread confinement is a very complicated solution to implement in Africa, because there are many poor people living in major cities and therefore it would be very hard to apply a total lockdown in these situations.

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