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Coronavirus Africa: Live Update 4

News reports on the spread and response to coronavirus in Africa typically focus on the vulnerability, readiness and infection rates of individual countries. But despite the image this paints, of individual and disparately-prepared nations waging an invisible internal struggle, collaborative support and action between African countries is taking place.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, for Daily Maverick.

"Last Friday, I convened a teleconference of the African Union Bureau, which consists of the leaders of Egypt, Mali, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. Other participants in the call included the leaders of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal and Zimbabwe."

"We agreed to establish regional coronavirus task forces in each of Africa’s five regions: Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and Northern Africa. They will oversee screening, detection and diagnosis; infection prevention and control; clinical management of infected persons; and communication and community engagement."

Here are a few more coronavirus updates from across the continent.

North Africa

Algeria will extend curfews it has put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus from Sunday, the prime minister said on Saturday, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 1,251. The curfew will last from 3 p.m. until 7 a.m. in the capital Algiers and eight other provinces, and from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. in most of the others.

King Mohammed VI on Sunday pardoned more than 5,000 inmates to prevent the new coronavirus from contaminating Moroccan prisons, the Justice Ministry announced. The monarch “granted a pardon to 5,654 inmates and ordered to take all necessary measures to strengthen the protection of inmates in prisons,” the ministry said in a statement.

East Africa

Coronavirus-linked flight restrictions are hampering efforts to wipe out locust swarms on the verge of devastating crops in eastern Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. The curbs have delayed deliveries of pesticides and, at the current rate of spraying, stocks in Kenya will run out within four days.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on March 15 announced that he had secured a continent wide support coronavirus support from Chinese businessman Jack Ma. The Ali Baba founder confirmed the news 24-hours later following which the materials were flown to Ethiopia on March 22. Ethiopia had agreed to use its national airline, Ethiopian, to undertake deployment to all member states.

Central Africa

Officials in Uganda have donated food to vulnerable people living in the metropolitan area of Kampala during the lockdown. Stringent measures employed to stop spread of the coronavirus means, millions of people are out of the jobs in the East Africa nation.

The World Bank will provide nearly $50 million to help the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The $47 million funding aims to strengthen the DRC government's capacity to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, with a focus on provinces crucial to containing the epidemic, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

Southern Africa

Malawi's president and all government ministers are taking a 10% wage cut for three months to raise money to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. President Peter Mutharika made the announcement as he set out a stimulus package to help cushion the economic impact of the disease. Malawi reported its first cases of the coronavirus on Thursday - one of the last countries to do so.

Growing calls for police to be held accountable for excessive violence used to enforce COVID-19-related restrictions. Street vendors and workers with long commutes - some of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in Nairobi - are the ones most at risk of being caught outside and punished by the police. Additionally, these groups are the least likely to be successful reporting such abuses, activists say.

West Africa

Nigeria plans to create a 500 billion naira ($1.39 billion)coronavirus fund to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure to tackle the virus, the government said on Saturday. Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed, House of Representatives speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate President Ahmad Lawan agreed in a meeting that the crisis intervention fund would pull in cash as loans from various special government accounts and get the rest from grants and loans from multilateral institutions, a statement said.

Ghana has joined the ranks of countries around the world that are enforcing some form of restriction on movement with the hope of slowing down the spread of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. The restrictions on movement in Ghana are scheduled to last for two weeks as the Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health race to catch up with the marauding virus.

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