Africa´s cases of the coronavirus rose above 1,000 on Saturday while two heads of state appeared to defy their own travel restrictions to attend another president´s inauguration.
Nigeria reported 10 new cases while Angola announced its first case, meaning at least 40 of Africa´s 54 countries are now affected.
Congo reported its first death; Burkina Faso reported two new ones. Cote d’Ivoire shut its borders, the latest to do so in the continent.
Angola closed its air, land and sea borders last week, but Namibian media showed President Joao Lourenco at the inauguration of Namibian President Hage Geingob. Also in attendance was President Mokgweetsi Masisi of neighbouring Botswana, which last week suspended international travel by all government employees.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa also was there. He announced a national disaster even before his country confirmed its first virus case on Friday. On Saturday, his country announced the first case in the capital, Harare.
Burkina Faso now has the most virus deaths of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. It has one of the highest caseloads on the continent with 64.
Four government ministers in Burkina Faso have tested positive, including the minister of foreign affairs.
The rest are those of mining, education and interior.
On Friday, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore announced the country’s two international airports would close for two weeks with the exception for military and cargo.
Burkina Faso is one of Africa´s most fragile states with a growing humanitarian crisis caused by attacks linked to Islamic extremists. More than 130 health centers have closed, affecting more than 1.5 million people, the government and aid groups say.
According to a government response plan, emergency teams aren’t trained for a respiratory disease outbreak and don’t have appropriate protective gear.
There’s also insufficient screening at borders. None of Burkina Faso´s 44 high-flow entry points have the needed personal protective equipment, and only 23% have coronavirus screening devices.
Jerry-Jonas Mbasha, cluster coordinator for the World Health Organization in Burkina Faso, said he was “much worried about what might happen in the next one week, two weeks from now.”
Most people only experience minor flu-like symptoms from the coronavirus and recover within a few weeks, but the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear well. It can cause severe illness, including pneumonia, in some patients, particularly those with underlying health problems.
More than 275,000 cases have been confirmed globally, including over 11,000 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. At least 88,000 people have recovered.
Nigeria’s index case was discharged from the hospital on Friday.
In Kenya, health officials continued to disinfect crowded markets in the capital, Nairobi, trying to stop the virus´ spread.
“It´s for the sake of us, it´s for the sake of the country,” said Simon Kimani, public health council chairman
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