Africa is seeing a steady spread of the coronavirus across the continent, with four new countries on Saturday confirming cases, so that 23 of Africa’s 54 countries have COVID-19 patients.
Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini and Mauritania reported their first cases. All were brought to the continent by travelers from overseas, as with almost all the other cases reported in Africa, health authorities said.
African governments and health officials are racing to contain the spread of the new virus on the continent of 1.3 billion people. If the disease spreads locally within the continent, health officials warn that several countries with fragile health systems could see higher mortality rates.
Namibia, which confirmed two cases of people who arrived from Spain, canceled its independence celebrations planned for March 21. The funds that were to have been spent on the independence festivities will now be used to fight the further spread of the coronavirus, officials said.
Nambian President Hage Geingob is to be sworn into a second term of office, but all other large gatherings have been suspended for the next 30 days. Flights linking Namibia to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany have also been suspended for 30 days.
In response to two cases it confirmed, Mauritania closed schools for a week, reduced border crossing points, placed a ban on public gatherings and called for travelers from countries at risk to voluntarily confine themselves at home.
In South Africa, 14 new cases were confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 38.
A South African military plane repatriated 121 South African students who had been stranded in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak first became a crisis. The South African jet landed at the Polokwane airport in the country’s north.
All passengers had tested negative before the flight back from China, but as a precautionary measure the group, including the crew, would be quarantined for 21 days at a nearby hotel. The roads leading to both entrances of the Ranch Resort are being patrolled by the army and police, authorities said.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. The WHO said that people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness might take three to six weeks to recover.
Africa’s hospitals might not be adequately prepared to care for large numbers of people who might need intensive care and ventilators, health experts said.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,