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Infectious Diseases

Updated 20 August 2020

Covid-19: What's the situation in other African countries?

South Africa has the fifth-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world and makes up 61.7% of Africa's total confirmed cases.

  • Africa has more than one million Covid-19 cases, with SA the hihest on the continent
  • Some countries in the Southern Africa region are doing better than others
  • But underreporting remains a concern in painting an accurate picture of the pandemic

Africa reached the one million Covid-19 cases mark at the beginning of this month, with South Africa remaining fifth in the world and representing 61.7% of Africa's total confirmed cases.

Nigeria, with the second-highest number of confirmed cases in sub-Saharan Africa, has the 50th most cases in the world, with almost 50 000 cases and 977 deaths, followed by Ghana, Algeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.

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The latest World Health Organisation (WHO) region report noted that besides South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria are also seeing a downward trajectory in cases.

The African country with the biggest upward trajectory is Gambia, followed by Botswana, Namibia and Angola. Other countries with increasing numbers include Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia. 

In terms of deaths, South Africa also has recorded the highest number, followed by Ethiopia and Algeria. On the a positive note, the recovery rate stands at around 73% in Africa with an overall confirmed case fatality rate of 2.2%.

But what exactly is happening closer to home in the Southern African region?

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Data was taken from John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre on 18 August 2020.

Namibia

  • Cases: 4 344
  • Deaths: 36

Namibia is currently in stage 3 lockdown, with strict travel restrictions in the Erongo and Khomas regions. About 11.4% of confirmed cases are in their 50s, with most are between the ages of 20 and 49. About 4.4% of cases are under the age of five.

Only 3.3% are over the age of 60.

Botswana

  • Cases: 1 308
  • Deaths: 3

The country is currently peaking with most cases in the capital Gaborone. Most of their transmissions are foreign driven by cross-border bus drivers, although local transmissions are rising.

They have no confirmed cases in children, with the majority of cases between the ages of 36 and 45.

Lesotho

  • Cases: 946
  • Deaths: 30

A lot of the landlocked country's transmissions were linked to South African travel and currently, the borders are closed. Despite the low numbers the country has a high death percentage with a higher infection rate among women between the ages of 30 and 35, according to their government website. 

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Eswatini

  • Cases: 3 894
  • Deaths: 73

Eswatini's infections are centred in the Manzini and Hhohho regions and women make up the majority of confirmed cumulative cases. Almost 500 cases were under the age of 19, with most cases between the ages of 20 and 49. 

Mozambique

  • Cases: 2 914
  • Deaths: 19

South Africa's neighbour has a positivity rate of 3.5% with a slow increase in numbers compared to its neighbours, affecting just over half of the country's districts.

According to their Director-General of the National Institute of Health, 5% of Nampula's population has been infected by the coronavirus, while in Pemba it's only 2.5%. They also indicated that market vendors have the highest risk of exposure, followed by healthcare professionals and then the police force.

Zimbabwe

  • Cases: 5 308
  • Deaths: 135

The Zimbabwean healthcare crisis has stretched the country to the brink due to economic collapse, medical staff strikes and political turmoil. The Lancet reports that Covid-19 numbers are presumed to be largely underreported with patients being turned away from hospitals with limited capacity.

READ MORE | Covid-19: What we know about SA’s 33 000 excess deaths so far 

Zambia

  • Cases: 9 839
  • Deaths: 264

Excluding South Africa, Zambia is among the top five African countries with the highest recent consistent increases, with a 25% increase between the last two weekly updates.

The country's health minister was also arrested for corruption after media reports like in the Mail and Guardian accused the government of using the pandemic to increase its authoritarian control.

Angola

  • Cases: 1 935
  • Deaths: 88

Most of the transmissions have been restricted to Angola's capital Luanda and the government has set up quarantine zones. It is a criminal offence to leave these zones and one can get fined for not wearing a mask. Schools, cinemas and religious centres are still closed. 

Of their positive cases, more than a thousand were asymptomatic.

Tanzania

  • Cases: 509
  • Deaths: 21

While cumulative numbers appear low, Tanzania's government hasn't released any Covid-19 numbers since April with almost no lockdown regulations. Opposition parties accuse the government of downplaying the impact of the pandemic on the country. 

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Malawi

  • Cases: 5 125
  • Deaths: 162

According to WHO, the country is struggling with a shortage of laboratory test kits and limited isolation facilities. In the president's last speech he mentioned that only 5% of cases were hospitalised and that only one healthcare worker has died.

Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Cases: 9 706
  • Deaths: 243

Besides Covid-19, the country also battles Ebola, measles and cholera and has recently reopened up its airspace after being closed for almost five months.

Comoros

  • Cases: 405
  • Deaths: 7

Currently, there are only 45 active cases in the Comoros islands and they didn't have any new cases, according to their latest update.

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Madagascar

  • Cases: 14 009
  • Deaths: 173

The country made headlines earlier in the year after its president claimed a herbal tonic could cure Covid-19. The BBC, however, reports that hospitals in the capital are currently overrun with patients and can only admit serious cases.

Mauritius

  • Cases: 346
  • Deaths: 10

As of this month, Mauritius is Covid-19-free after having closed its borders very early in the pandemic. Borders will remain closed until 31 August.

Seychelles

  • Cases: 127
  • Deaths: 0

With no official deaths, the popular tourist destination reopened its borders for international flights from 1 August to foreign visitors, who had to undergo a coronavirus test before departure.

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