Coronavirus Africa news summary: Tuesday 17 August

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

Coronavirus Africa live: latest news - Monday 17 August

Africa

Africa Covid-19 update: 23:00 WAT on Monday 17 August (00:00 CEST Tuesday 18 August) 

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 21,770,754
Deaths: 776,819
Recoveries: 13,725,926

South Africa

Cases: 589,886
Deaths: 11,982

Egypt 

Cases: 96,475
Deaths: 5,160

Nigeria

Cases: 49,068
Deaths: 975

Johannesburg

U.S. delivers protective equipment to help fight Covid-19 in South Africa

U.S. Africa Command sent about $340,000 worth of personal protective equipment to South Africa over the weekend to help that country battle the surging coronavirus pandemic.

The equipment, which included N-95 masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizer was delivered by a U.S. Air Force C-130 and is meant to benefit front-line health care workers, U.S. Africa Command officials said in a statement. U.S. AFRICOM also contributed $225,000 to an initiative that would set up handwashing statison in several locations throughout the country.

Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trial in South Africa now in mid-stage

United States drug developer Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) said on Monday that it had started a mid-stage Phase 2b study of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, as the country experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.

South Africa is the fifth worst affected country in the world with more than 583,000 coronavirus cases and just under 12,000 deaths. 

The trial of Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which is backed by a multi-million Dollar grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was being conducted in two separate groups, one comprising 2 665 healthy volunteers and the other, 240 HIV-positive adults.

Novavax expects its vaccine, once approved, would be supplied to South Africa through a deal signed earlier this year with the Serum Institute of India to develop and commercialize NVX-CoV2373.

vaccine

Immune response after mild Covid-19 infection is prolonged - study

In patients with mild Covid-19 infection, immune responses last months and possibly longer, researchers found. Early reports suggested that in mildly ill patients, antibodies decrease and immunity wanes soon after recovery. But a study from China last month on 349 Covid-19 patients, which has not yet undergone peer review, found similar immune response patterns at six months regardless of symptom severity.

And in a study published on Saturday ahead of peer review, U.S. researchers performed blood tests in 15 patients after mild Covid-19, looking for three signs of lasting immune responses: antibodies, so-called memory B cells, and memory T cells. Three months after recovery, patients still had "all three of these defense layers," reducing their risk of reinfection, study co-author Lauren Rodda of the University of Washington School of Medicine told Reuters.

If they do become reinfected, they are less likely to become severely ill or be contagious, Rodda said. Test results at three months were unchanged from results at one month, so her team believes this is a lasting response. Because the findings show immune responses last three months, if not longer, Rodda added, they support U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice that patients need not be retested for Covid-19 within the first three months after an infection. 

Nigeria to reopen airports for international flights from 29 August

Nigeria will reopen its airports for international flights from Saturday 29 August, its aviation minister said on Monday. The airports have been closed since 23 March to all but essential international flights as part of the country's efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said four flights would begin landing daily in Lagos, and four in Abuja, with strict protocols. "It is safe to fly, if we observe all those protocols in place," Sirika said at a briefing in Abuja.

Africa's most populous nation, which recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case in late February, now has 49,068 confirmed cases and 975 deaths. It resumed domestic flights on 8 July, and Sirika said there had been no confirmed virus transmissions on flights.

Follow Covid-19 protocol - South Africa moves into Level 2 lockdown easing 

In a video message, Dr Bilal Abdool Gafoor from Melomed Hospital in Cape Town asked the public to remember the key points of health and safety protocol as South Africa enters Level 2 of lockdown easing. "During this pandemic, we should be adapting a collaborative role with you, the South African public with us, the healthcare sector by trying to adhere to the following: respect and adhere to the policies of the lockdown. Minimise social contact and keep social distancing, wash your hands regularly and correctly. And use the adequate respiratory protection. If you are found to be positive, please adhere to the principles of quararntine". 

Increase health budget, CSOs tells Gombe government

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations against Severe Acute Malnutrition in Gombe State has tasked the Gombe State Government to increase the health budget in the state, The Punch reports. During a visit to the Budget office, Gombe State Ministry of Finance Mr Alhassan Yahya said an increased health budget would address the issue of malnutrition in the state.

Covid-19 death rates remain low in Africa, bucking predictions

Africa coronavirus cases surpass 1.1m

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the number of coronavirus cases in Africa has surpassed 1.1m, with over half of those cases attributed to South Africa. 

Ghana to reopen borders 

Ghana's president has announced that the country could soon reopen its borders as the number of active coronavirus cases continues to decline. 

“Under my instructions, the Ministry of Aviation, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Ghana Airports Co. Ltd, have been working, with the Ministry of Health and its agencies, to ascertain our readiness to reopen our airport,” Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on Monday (via CGTN Africa).

“I want to ensure that we are in a position to test every single passenger that arrives in the country to avoid the spread of the virus. The outcome of that exercise will show us the way, and determine when we can reopen our border by air. I am hoping that we will be ready to do so by 1 September."

South Africa told to expect second wave

The South African Medical Association has warned of a second wave of coronavirus in the country as cases continue to surge.

SAMA welcomed the easing of the lockdown restricitons, but stated that the fight against the virus is far from over. 

"I think what is extremely important for people to understand is that we will see a pattern of waves where you will get a decline, as we are seeing now but you will get a second curve," said chairperson of the association, Dr Angelique Coetzee (via MSN News).

WHO report highlights lack of sanitation in schools before pandemic

A report by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF's Joint Monitoring Programme has found that two in five schools around the globe lacked suitable handwashing facilities prior to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Global school closures since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic have presented an unprecedented challenge to children's education and wellbeing," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director (via allAfrica.com).

"We must prioritize children's learning. This means making sure that schools are safe to reopen - including with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation."

Covid-19 death rates in Africa remain low

Rwanda shuts markets in capital due to coronavirus surge

BBC reporting that two of Rwandan capital Kigali's biggest markets have been shut following a surge in Covid-19 cases. 

The closure of Nyarugenge market and Kwa Mutanga market - the main wholesale market for fresh food in the city - takes effect from today. Rwanda confirmed 253 new cases in the last three days, with the majority of those in Kigali. Before that some 222 cases had been registered over 14 days. 

Rwanda is currently the only sub-Saharan country whose residents are allowed to enter Europe's Schengen zone.

South Africa: Novavax starts mid-stage vaccine study 

US drug maker Novavax has announced that it will start a a mid-stage study of its coronavirus vaccine in South Africa. The Phase 2b trial study of NVX-CoV2373 will be conducted on about 2,665 healthy adults.

"Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of COVID-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy, along with additional safety and immunogenicity data for NVX-CoV2373," said Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn.

The company also confirmed that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the study with $15 million in funding. 

Ethiopa latest figures

Ethiopia has confirmed 982 new cases of coronavirus, briging its total tally to 29,876. The death toll has risen by 19 to reach 528, while the number of recoveries stands at 12,359.

There are currenty 16,687 active cases, while 606,463 tests have been carried out in the country.

Novavax begins mid-stage study of Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa

US drug developer Novavax Inc said on Monday that it is starting a mid-stage study of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, as the country experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Phase 2b trial study of NVX-CoV2373 will be conducted on about 2,665 healthy adults and will evaluate the safety and immunogenicity in about 240 medically stable, HIV-positive adults, the company said in a statement.

"Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of Covid-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy, along with additional safety and immunogenicity data for NVX-CoV2373," said Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn.

(Text: Reuters)

South Africa moves to lockdown level 2

South Africa moves to lockdown level 2 today, with a nationwide alcohol ban among a number of restrictions to be lifted in the country. 

Full lowdown:

Coronavirus live Africa updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, Africa-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of 07:30 WAT on Monday had registered nearly 21.7m cases and over 775,000 deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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