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Coronavirus Africa news summary: Wednesday 5 August

A health worker checks the temperature with an infrared thermometer of students queueing and keeping distances on resumption of studies at Access International Schools, in Magboro, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, on August 4, 2020. - Secondary schools acro

Coronavirus live Africa: latest Covid-19 news - Wednesday 5 August


Africa Covid-19 update: 00:00 WAT on Thursday 6 August (01:00 CEST) 

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University18,650,322 cases have been detected worldwide, with 703,320 deaths and 11,254,878 people recovered.

South Africa: 521,318 cases / 8,884 deaths

Egypt: 94,752 cases / 4,912

Nigeria: 44,433 cases / 910 deaths

Gambia imposes curfew as cases surge 60% in a week

Gambia, mainland Africa's smallest country, imposed a three-week curfew on Wednesday after coronavirus cases surged over 60% in the last seven days to nearly 800.

Authorities attributed the rise to people relaxing their guard on protective measures that had so far kept Gambia's case total the lowest in Africa. Testing has also increased in the country, where the number of deaths is 16. A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will go into effect on Thursday, public gatherings will be banned and markets will have to close by 2 p.m., government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh told the national broadcaster.

He had said earlier in the day that authorities would increase police, paramilitary, marine and immigration presence on its border with Senegal as scores of Senegalese who live in Gambia return from celebrating Eid al-Adha with their wider families. Senegal has recorded over 10,500 cases. The minister for women’s affairs, children and social welfare, Fatou Kinteh, tested positive on Wednesday for Covid-19, becoming the fourth minister to do so this week. Vice President Isatou Touray also tested positive on July 29, leading President Adama Barrow to enter self-isolation.

The government said on Tuesday the president had tested negative. The Health Ministry said six people who were confirmed cases were still at large, while two other positive cases had fled from a treatment centre in the capital.

48 members of Migori family infected with Covid-19

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said during the daily Covid-19 briefing Wednesday that the disease has spread across three generations of an extended family in Migori.

Mr Kagwe confirmed the infections as he announced 671 new Covid-19 cases. He said 633 of the new cases were Kenyans and 33 

Kenya's private sector bounces back but remains uncertain

The Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to 54.2 in July, from 46.6 in the previous month, well above the 50.0 mark that separates growth from contraction. July’s level was the highest since June last year.

“The removal of county travel restrictions supported output and business sentiment in July,” said Jibran Qureishi, head of Africa Research at Stanbic Bank, referring to the opening up of the capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.He said the outlook was uncertain, however.

Terror threats in East Africa not changed by pandemic

Terror threats on Kenya and the region remain as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic, the US Africa Command (Africom) has said.

Violent extremist organisations like Al-Shabaab are still looking for opportunities that will emerge with the pandemic to accomplish their missions.

"We cannot underestimate the threat the organisations pose. They are resilient, patient and willing to look for chances that emerge...and recruit members," Africom's Special Operations head Dagvin R.M. Anderson said.

South Africa and excess deaths

'Yet another big increase in estimated excess deaths in South Africa, largely due to Covid and Covid-related causes. Latest estimate is more than 28,300 excess deaths for the period from May 6 to July 28'

Check out this comparison thread

Senegalese student helps keep deaf people up-to-date on Covid-19

Naomie Koffi, a journalism student in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, has been making sign-language videos and posting them on Facebook to help keep deaf people abreast of the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic. 

"I watch the news and I summarise it once a week for the deaf community because they don’t have access to the news,” she told the BBC. "I am committed to doing my best and changing things at my level."

Koffi has also produced sign-language translations of important speeches by the Senegalese president, Macky Sall, who has taken to social media to thank her for her efforts.

"Even at your own home, you can stay safe, and remain fit and healthy"

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has posted this home work-out video on social media in an attempt to encourage people to keep fit indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Just like I have always advised, even at your own home, you can stay safe, and remain fit and healthy," Museveni said. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 1,203 coronavirus cases in Uganda, leading to five deaths.

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Covid-19 cases slowing in South African hotspot provinces, minister says

Three South African provinces considered coronavirus hotspots have seen new infections slow in recent weeks, though it is too early to say whether the country's peak has passed, the health minister said on Wednesday.

South Africa has the world's fifth highest number of infections, with cases passing 500,000 over the weekend, despite a strict lockdown since late March.

Financial hub Gauteng, tourist centre Western Cape and the Eastern Cape have seen steep rises for months, with total cases at roughly 183,000, 97,000 and 80,000 respectively.

"The number of new infections is increasing at a lower rate than what had been happening in the whole of June and up to the middle of July. That clearly indicates to us that there is a declining trend," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a news conference, referring to Gauteng.

Mkhize noted a presentation showing the average number of new cases in the country's nine provinces and said that in Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, surges in infections might have peaked.

Despite signs of progress, Mkhize warned that two other provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, had seen high rates, and that a failure to follow containment measures like wearing masks could see infections rebound.

"We may well be over this peak sometime towards the end of August. But if we don't insist on distancing and use of masks we actually can have a second surge," he said.

(Text: Reuters)

US sends 250 ventilators to Ethiopia

The United States has delivered 250 ventilators to Ethiopia to help the African country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The shipment was officially handed over by the US ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael Raynor, in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

“I am honoured to join [Ethiopian health minister] Dr. Lia Tadesse to hand over this new equipment and to continue our work together, mitigating the impact of Covid-19 and helping Ethiopia save lives,”  Raynor said, per ENA.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 19,877 coronavirus cases in Ethiopia, leading to 343 deaths.

Global death toll passes 700,000 mark

The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities.

Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from Covid-19 on average, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the past two weeks.

That equates to 247 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds.

(Text: Reuters)


Nigeria secondary schools partially reopen

A student sanitizes his hands after resuming his studies at Access International Schools, in Magboro, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, on Tuesday. Secondary schools across the country have reopened following the government's partial removal of a suspension imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lifting of restrictions allows only the exit classes to return to school, especially students preparing to take the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam, which is scheduled to start on 17 August.


Zimbabwe president names VP as new health minister

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday appointed his deputy Constantino Chiwenga as the new health minister, tasking him with reforming a decaying health sector amid a rise in Covid-19 infections and strikes by health workers.

Chiwenga replaces Obaddiah Moyo, who was removed from the post last month after allegations of corruption.

In his new role, Chiwenga will be required to "stabilise, restructure and reform" the national healthcare system, the government said in a statement.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) immediately criticised the appointment, saying Chiwenga was not the right man for the job in a time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zimbabwe has recorded more than 4,000 Covid-19 cases and 80 deaths and health officials say infections will continue to rise for sometime.

The MDC said in appointing Chiwenga, Mnangagwa had shown a "gross display of incompetence."

Chiwenga spent four months in China receiving medical treatment for an unknown illness until November last year.  He has returned three times since then for medical check-ups, according to government officials.

(Text: Reuters)

Coronavirus live Africa updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, Africa-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, whose worldwide death toll passed the 700,000 mark overnight, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. As of 08:00 WAT, there had been over 18.5 million global cases

In Africa, according to the latest update by the World Health Organization (WHO), there have nearly 970,000 cases and 20,500 deaths.