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Coronavirus Africa: Live Update 5

Since we first started sharing updates about the spread and response to the coronavirus in Africa 3 weeks ago, confirmed cases of the virus have risen sharply, from under 1500 to nearly 20 000 today.

The World Health Organisation's Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has described how the virus is spreading from capital cities to “the hinterland” in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana.

"We want to minimise the proportion of people who get to the point of needing critical care in an ICU, because we know that these types of facilities are not adequate by any means in the majority of African countries."

With efforts to address the virus focusing on prevention rather than treatment, a sharp increase in cases represents a potentially devastating threat.

Inadequate testing capacity and measures such as lockdowns that don't include or consider the communities they impact threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions, and will make containing the spread of coronavirus incredibly challenging in the weeks ahead.

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

North Africa

Tunisia said Thursday that two men, including a suspected member of a jihadist network, had been arrested over an alleged “terrorist” plot to infect security force personnel with coronavirus. The suspected jihadist is accused of having used his influence over supporters displaying symptoms of the virus, the interior ministry said in a statement.

General Ahmed Abdun Hammad Mohammed refused to implement a decision to ban prayers in mosques and churches due to come into force on Saturday. Earlier on Thursday, police fired teargas at supporters of the ousted President Omar al-Bashir. They were demonstrating against the transitional government's austerity programme.

East Africa

The national tally stands at 246 as at midday local time according to the Standard Digital portal, the number is 12 more that the last official figure that stood at 246 as at close of day April 16. Speaking in an address yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said whiles progress had been made, there was more needed to be done. “We have lost 11 people to this disease and nearly one thousand are still in quarantine, and 156 in isolation facilities.

Tanzania officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the annual Union Day celebrations. The day is marked to commemorate the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to become Tanzania. April 26 is the day of the celebration but Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the cancellation in connection to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Central Africa

A backlash against foreigners in Central African Republic threatens to disrupt peacekeeping and aid supplies in one of Africa’s most fragile countries. Since an Italian missionary was identified as CAR’s first coronavirus case last month, xenophobia has been on the rise. Stories widely published in the country’s newspapers and on social media have portrayed foreigners as unwelcome importers of a disease that could further impoverish the country.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's health authorities have appealed for maximum effort to avoid “the worst” impact of an expected peak in coronavirus cases in the capital Kinshasa next month. The pandemic in the capital city and province “is entering an exponential phase,” the country's Covid-19 watchdog said in a report seen by AFP on Wednesday.

Southern Africa

Informal traders have taken to the streets in Malawi, protesting against a coronavirus lockdown which comes into effect at the weekend, vowing to disregard it. Thousands of vendors in the northern town of Mzuzu on Thursday marched to the city council's offices protesting against the shutdown.

A Zimbabwe court on Tuesday ordered the government to provide healthcare workers with protective gear and roll out mass testing against the deadly coronavirus. An association of human rights doctors brought the case to compel the government to beef up protection for public hospitals and healthcare workers.

West Africa

The International Monetary Fund says Nigeria's economy is expected to shrink by 3.4 percent this year and Africa's largest economy could face a recession lasting until 2021. Oil-rich Nigeria has been hit by the plunge in the demand for energy set off by the global lockdown against COVID-19.

The West African nation of Ghana is one of the continent’s most impacted countries in terms of coronavirus infection. The country has recorded 636 confirmed cases (as of April 15). The first cases were confirmed on March 12, 2020. The government has been lauded for its progress in the area of testing, Ghana placed a distant second behind South Africa according to a recent report by Worldometer – a site that specializes in global statistical aggregation.

For an in-depth look at how Africa will deal with the coronavirus, watch this.

"How will Africa deal with coronavirus?"

"Pandemic is reaching a continent with poor public healthcare, weak infrastructure and an inability to enforce lockdowns." - Al Jazeera

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