Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases near 1.16 million amid call for strong mitigation efforts

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Makeshift Hospital
Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2020 shows the interior of a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients at the AsiaWorld-Expo, a venue near the Hong Kong International Airport, in south China's Hong Kong. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,158,217 as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 26,968, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Friday.

The number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections rose to 881,495 as of Friday, said Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, in its latest situation update.

South Africa currently has the most COVID-19 cases, which hit 599,940. The country also has the highest number of deaths related to COVID-19, at 12,618.

Egypt came next with 97,025 confirmed cases and 5,212 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 50,964 cases and 992 deaths, Africa CDC said. Ghana and Morocco also represent the fourth and fifth spot in terms of positive cases, it was noted.

The southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by northern Africa and western Africa regions, it said.

On Thursday, the AU had launched a flagship campaign to intensify the continental fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic toward protecting African economies and livelihoods amid the easing of lockdowns.

The newly launched continental initiative, dubbed “Africa Against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies, and Livelihoods Campaign,” mainly envisaged protecting borders and travelers, economies and livelihoods, as countries ease lockdown and resume economic activities, the AU announced on Thursday.

The initiative was launched jointly by the AU Social Affairs Commission, Infrastructure and Energy Commission as well as the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) during weekly virtual news briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, said during the virtual briefing that as AU member states begin to ease lockdowns and reopen, “it is critical to prepare Africa for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Noting “sign of hope” in terms of decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Africa during the past week, Nkengasong, however, emphasized the need to avoid “prevention fatigue,” and further intensify precautionary measures, such as the use of masks, social distancing as well as increase COVID-19 testing.

Recalling the continental Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing in Africa initiative that was launched on June 4 that envisaged testing 10 million COVID-19 targets across the continent, the Africa CDC Director stressed that more than 10.2 million tests have been conducted so far across the continent, exceeding the initial target.

According to figures from the Africa CDC, South Africa, Morocco and Ethiopia are among the African countries that have conducted the highest number of COVID-19 tests.

Amani Abou-Zeid, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, also said during the virtual briefing the need to expedite investments in the energy infrastructure sector, as she emphasized that challenges associated to the energy sector is greatly hampering the public health sector.

Noting that only 28 percent of health facilities in Africa have reliable sources of energy source, the AU Infrastructure and Energy Commissioner stressed that the need “to speak in one voice and turn around this crisis in Africa to do things better for the wellbeing of our people.”

Amira Elfadil Mohammed, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, on her part also emphasized the need to exert concerted efforts as a continent towards mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

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