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Covid-19 in Africa

Africa surpasses three million Covid-19 cases, most in South Africa

In Nairobi, Kenya, schoolchildren wait for their temperatures to be taken before entering classrooms for the first time in nine months due to Covid-19.
In Nairobi, Kenya, schoolchildren wait for their temperatures to be taken before entering classrooms for the first time in nine months due to Covid-19. REUTERS - THOMAS MUKOYA
5 min

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than three million cases have been logged on the continent since the start of the pandemic, with South Africa accounting for more than 30 percent. 

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South Africa has recorded some 1.2 million Covid-19 cases, with a recent spike in infections due to a new variant of the virus seeing numbers rise by nearly a third. Johns Hopkins University data shows the infection rate at 30.18 cases per 100,000 people.

The high numbers have forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to meet his cabinet this week to see if any other restrictions need to be added to the alcohol ban, bar closures, and limits on the number of people in a public space.

Nigeria hits Covid highs

Nigeria surpassed 100,000 infections on Sunday, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The numbers spiked in the past eight weeks, with 1,024 new cases logged on Sunday, with the economic capital Lagos seeing the highest number with 653.

Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu provided some positive news, tweeting that a new oxygen plant had been inaugurated.

“The plant will supplement oxygen supply to about 300 cylinders per day and 6 cylinders per hour,” he said.  “We are working to ensure patients receive the best care at our state facilities."

Lagos gov tweet

Kenya back-to-school issues

Many Kenyan primary and secondary students have gone back to school after nine months of classroom closures. But some have elected to stay away, partly due to fears of catching Covid-19 and also because of financial hardships or life changes, according to RFI Kiswahili's Victor Abuso. 

“Many students and parents feel that they might be infected at school, but many of the learners who did not return are girls,” Abuso told the Africa Calling podcast. “Most of them were married off or became pregnant during the nine-month period, so they are unable to go back to school."

School provided a haven for female students to focus on their studies and avoid the marriage route, according to Dorcus Parit, an activist with local Kenya non-governmental organisation Hope Beyond Kenya.

“But because of Covid-19, the safety net was removed, leaving them at risk of child marriage,” Parit told Equality Now, an international women’s rights organisation.

Money woes also factored into the lack of children in chairs, says Abuso. Some parents lost their jobs due to the stringent lockdowns that took place throughout Kenya, so they cannot afford school uniforms, school fees or other school-related expenses.

The education ministry has told parents they could face prosecution if their children do not return to school.

Victor school

Presidents, prime ministers not exempt

Covid-19 has taken its toll on African heads of state and government over the past year – Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is to return to Germany for follow-up treatment after spending two months there hospitalised with coronavirus.

The 75-year-old is to be treated for a foot problem related to Covid-19, according to Reuters.

Among other African statesmen to have succumbed are eSwatini Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, who died in a South African hospital.

Sudan’s Sadiq al-Mahdi, the last democratically-elected prime minister in Sudan also died from Covid-19 in the United Arab Emirates. Nur Hassan Hussein, 82, former Somali prime minister, died in London in April.

Dying far from home, Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango, 81, former president of the Republic of Congo, died from the disease in Paris. His family confirmed he had pre-existing health issues.

Former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings died in November. While his cause of death was not released, some local media outlets reported he died of Covid-19.

While Tanzania’s government, led by John Magufuli, has proclaimed that there are no coronavirus cases, many suspect former president Benjamin Mkapa died after contracting the virus. His official cause of death was heart attack.

Pierre Nkurunziza, former president of Burundi officially died of respiratory failure, although it was reported that he and his wife were suffering from the disease.

Former Gabonese prime minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet died of an asthma attack, according to Togolese sources, which others said pointed to Covid-19, although that was not the official reason for his death, either.

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