COVID-19 situation update for Africa May

29 May, 2020

29 May: In a statement from the African Regional WHO Director, “it appears that the swift actions taken by African leaders and communities has slowed the spread of the virus,” in the three months since the first case was reported in Sub-Saharan Africa. The quick implementation of public health measures and lockdowns are credited, with concern that cases could rapidly increase if measures are lifted too quickly. The WHO encourages gradual easing of measures along with continual testing, assessment of the situation and risks, stating “ending a lockdown is not an event, but a process”.

28 May: Around 20,000 additional cases have been reported in the past week from at least 43 countries. Maximum increases in cases were recorded in the following countries - South Sudan (from 282 to 806 cases), Comoros (from 34 to 87 cases), Mauritania (from 131 to 262 cases), Ethiopia (from 365 to 701 cases), Madagascar (from 326 to 586 cases), Sao Tome and Principe (from 251 to 441 cases), Central African Republic (from 411 to 652 cases) and Cameroon (from 3,529 to 5,436 cases). Namibia and Mauritius reported imported cases after 45 and 28 days, respectively. No cases have been detected in Seychelles and Eritrea in the past 49 and 37 days, respectively.

A total of 460 new deaths were reported in the past week from at least 30 countries, with about half from South Africa. No deaths have been recorded in Eritrea, Seychelles, Lesotho, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda since the start of the pandemic.

The total number of cases in African continent is now at around 118,717 and total deaths at 3,574. This figure includes cases in Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Tunisia and Libya which are considered in WHO EMRO region. Significant number of cases have been reported in health care workers with 2,217 of them being infected in 32 countries. Nigeria is the most affected, with 606 health care workers infected with COVID-19.

23 May: The African Regional Office of the WHO has released a statement as the region reaches 100,000 confirmed cases. It states that the outbreak seems to be on a different path in Africa, with lower mortality than seen in other world regions. Some suggestions to explain this include: younger populations (elderly people have higher fatality rates) and the quick response and lockdown measures as it learned from other countries infected beforehand. However as the African Regional Director states “we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.” Testing rates in the region remain low and many healthcare workers have been infected.

20 May: WHO-AFRO has published COVID-19 situation report #12. The general trend across Africa is increasing cases, with community transmission occurring in more than half the countries. At this time, urban centres remain the hotspots with little transmission in rural communities. Cross-border spread due to long-distance truck drivers and illegal border movement is rising.

A total of 64,388 cases have been recorded from all 47 member states, of which 1,827 fatalities are reported. This is an increase of 16,435 cases from 42 countries in a week. Large percentage increases have been observed in Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritania, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. Gabon and Guinea-Bissau crossed over 1,000 cases.

Over 26,000 people have recovered – including all cases in Eritrea (39) and Seychelles (11). Health care worker infections continue to rise; 1,920 cases have been reported from 32 countries. The outbreak continues to disproportionately affect males with 1.8:1 ratio of male to female infections.

Four countries have not reported cases in over three weeks (Eritrea, Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles) and Tanzania has gone 12 days since the last case was confirmed.

13 May: According to the latest COVID-19 situation report by WHO-AFRO #11, all the member states in African region have reported COVID-19 cases with Lesotho being the latest. Since the last report on 6 May, 15,000 additional cases have been reported which is a 42 percent increase than the week before. More than 100 percent increase in cases was recorded in Benin, Chad, Gabon, Guinea- Bissau, South Sudan and Zambia. At least two weeks have passed since Eritrea, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles reported any case. An increase in deaths was also noted, with 295 deaths recorded in the week to 12 May.

In total, about 48,000 cases and around 1,500 deaths have been recorded in the region. South Africa has reported the highest number of cases at 11,350 while death rate is highest in Algeria at 8.5 percent. Community transmission is ongoing in at least 24 countries. An increase in imported cases associated with long distance truck drivers and illegal transboundary movement has been observed.

Case profiling indicates that males are more affected than females and the median age of affected individuals is 42 years. Most affected age groups are 31 to 39 and 40 to 49 years.

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