Coronavirus Africa summary: cases, deaths, news - 19 May

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Coronavirus live updates: Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana... cases, deaths and news, today

Coronavirus live Africa updates: cases, deaths and news - 19 May


Africa Covid-19 update: 02:00 WAT on Wednesday 20 May 03:00 CEST

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University4,893,195 cases have been detected worldwide, with 322,861 deaths and 1,686,487 people now recovered.

Nigeria: 6,175 cases / 191 deaths
South Africa: 17,200 cases / 312 deaths
Ghana: 5,918 cases / 31 deaths
Uganda: 260 cases / 0 deaths (no data currently available)


Burundi heads to poll amidst health and violence concerns

On Wednesday, Burundi will hold its first competitive presidential election since a civil war erupted in 1993, despite simmering political violence and the coronavirus pandemic.

President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose government has repeatedly been accused of rights abuses, will step down after 15 years. His ruling CNDD-FDD party candidate, retired army general Evariste Ndayishimiye, is running against opposition leader Agathon Rwasa and five others.

The election is meant to usher in the first democratic transition in 58 years of independence for the east African nation, after widespread international criticism of its last election in 2015, when Nkurunziza ran for a third term.

There will be few election monitors after the government said they would have to go into a 14-day quarantine to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The government expelled the national head of the World Health Organization (WHO) last week following public criticism that all parties were holding rallies despite the disease. 

Wealthy countries "are failing Africa" during pandemic

Promises of financial support and debt relief have fallen well short of the continent’s needs as it battles the Covid-19 pandemic, several African presidents said on Tuesday. Presidents from Kenya, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Niger say they can't afford to plough billions into relief packages for their countries. 

“We’re not in a position to protect companies, to preserve jobs. There’s an injustice that is again being exposed by Covid-19,” Senegal’s President Macky Sall said during a virtual roundtable organised by the New York Forum Institute think-tank.

Three female Zimbabwean activists say they were tortured by state agents

Cecilia Chimbiri, a youth campaigner with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has given graphic testimony to the BBC of how she, MP Joana Mamombe and Netsai Marowa, were maltreated over 24 hours by alleged state agents.

Chimbiri told how they were subjected to hours of beatings and sexual assault by five men, before being left on Thursday night at the roadside on the outskirts of Bindura town, north of the capital.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the women made up the story to divert attention from the fact that they broke lockdown rules by attending a protest.


Faulty thermometer guns in Kenya

One of the problems facing health workers in Kenya is the use of infra red digital thermometer guns, with users claiming the guns give inaccurate readings or are not properly calibrated - some do not even bear the CE marking to show it conforms with health, safety, and environmental protection standards.

Dr. Henry Rotich told KTN News that health workers using the guns require proper training: "Those using such equipment need to be taken through the standard operating procedure for that particular thermometer," he explained.

Nigeria's major airports fumigated

Nigeria's three international airports: Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, have been fumigated by the Federal Airports Authority although there are no immediate plan to resume commercial flights in the country. A four-week ban on commercial air travel within Nigeria was announced in April and remains in place.

Nigeria government refutes Covid-19 relief package claims

The NCDC announced on social media that reports of a proposed Covid-19 relief fund to help struggling citizens are false. The NCDC explained that its mandate is to support States in preparing, detecting & responding to infectious disease outbreaks

Lesotho still with just one positive case

Lesotho recorded its first case of coronavirus last Wednesday, a national who had been studying in Saudi Arabia. And happily there have been no other cases.

The infected individual tested positive for the disease, but was showing no symptoms.

Lesotho is surround by South Africa, which has the highest number of cases on the continent: 16,433.

A handful of territories worldwide, mostly islands, are yet to confirm a case, including Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. North Korea also claims to have had no cases, but given its land border and connections with China this appears unlikely. 


Midwives facing challenges as coronavirus spreads

CNN have an in-depth look at the challenges facing midwives as Covid-19 spreads across the continent. Social distancing of course isn't fully possible, and many midwives don't have access to personal protective equipment or even in some places clean water and soap. 

But they keep doing their job: "We cannot leave the mothers, we have to attend to them during antenatal and postnatal. I'm motivated to do this because I save lives. The lives of mothers," says Fatou Joof, who works in the Gambia. 

Nigeria ‘eased lockdown’ to continue

Nigeria is not ready for full lifting of the lockdown, meaning the first phase of the eased lockdown will remain in place for two weeks. 

“The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.

"Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued,” said secretary to the government Boss Mustapha. 

Airports, land borders, schools, parks and places of worship will remain closed. Large gatherings and interstate travels remain banned and a nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 local time still remains in force.

Premier League back training

We take a look at how socially-distanced training will work in the English top flight.

WHO closing 73rd World Health Assembly

South Africa

32-12 against England

South Africa's World Cup winning squad are using the score from last year's final in Japan to launch a campaign to feed people left destitute by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

A total of 100,000 raffle tickets are being sold at 32.12 South African rand ($1.76) which will pay for food parcels and soup kitchens.

The Springboks beat England 32-12 in last November's final to win the World Cup for a third time and many of their top players have already launched their own initiatives to collect food for the hungry, notably captain Siya Kolisi.

Those who buy tickets have a chance to win a host of memorabilia from the tournament donated by the players -- a total of 44 prizes (32 + 12).

Champions League: revised format

UEFA plan to squeeze the rest of the competition into August.

Link between baldness and hospitalisation?

An observational study in Spain suggests there may be something going on, but more work required.


Why is Africa relatively unscathed?

Nigeria's Guardian poses the question on its front page. Despite dire warnings, so far Africa has been less badly hit than other parts of the world. 

The Guardian spoke to consultant pharmacognocist Prof. Maurice Iwu who offered a number of reasons why that might be: "An issue is high humidity in most African countries, not just hot temperatures. Because of the density of the virus in tropical Africa, it cannot travel far. That means the recommendation of two metres of social distancing does not apply here because the virus cannot go far".

Other reasons cited: diet, social exclusion of much of Sub-Saharan Africa. Full article here.

Huge rise in FGM in Somalia during lockdown

The coronavirus crisis and lockdown has led to a huge rise in female genital mutilation in Somalia, according to Plan International. The head of the charity's mission in the country, Sadia Allin, said: "“We’ve seen a massive increase in recent weeks. We want the government to ensure FGM is included in all Covid responses.”

Cutters are going door-to-door offering to cut girls who are stuck at home during the lockdown. 

Magufuli: "economy more important"

John Magufuli, Tanzania's controversial president, says the economy is "more important than the coronavirus" despite warnings that Africa could be facing the next big wave of Covid-19.

Magufuli has constantly denied the risk of the coronavirus to Tanzania. So far 21 people have died in the country from the disease. 509 people have been confirmed to have been infected. 

Magufuli has once again promoted natural remedies as a cure for Covid-19: "My own son, after contracting the virus, closed himself in his room, took a lemon and ginger solution before getting well and is even able to do push-ups. We have had a number of viral diseases, including Aids and measles. Our economy must come first. It must not sleep. If we allow our economy to sleep, we will not receive salaries. Life must go on. As I am talking here, some airline operators are fully booked – until August – with tourists who want to visit Tanzania."

Former Barcelona star Eto'o supporting hometown in Cameroon

Coronavirus: the complete guide to the Covid-19 pandemic

All the information you need to understand the coronavirus and ways to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic:


Cyclists ride their bikes at Emmarentia Dam in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the national lockdown initiated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The country is at level 4 of its lockdown. (Photo by EFE/EPA/KIM LUDBROOK)

Coronavirus live Africa updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, Africa-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now registered nearly 5 million cases worldwide.

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