COVID-19: Egypt, Algeria among major hotspots in Africa

The continent reported 1,300 confirmed cases, 58% of which were from South Africa, Egypt and Algeria  

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 23 March 2020

As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued to rise in African countries, Egypt, South Africa and Algeria emerged as the major hotspots for SARS-CoV-2. 

The three countries accounted for over 58 per cent (769) of 1,300 confirmed cases in 43 African countries, as on March 22, 2020. At 294, Egypt reported maximum number of positive COVID-19 cases in the continent — a jump of 500 per cent between March 19 and 20. 

This was followed by South Africa (274) and Algeria (201) till March 22, 2020.

A total of 33 deaths were reported from eight African countries — eight and 15 were from Egypt and Algeria respectively.

A closer look at the number of notified cases showed a nearly 40 per cent spike in just 48 hours — the number went up to 182 from 130 between March 19 and 21, 2020.

Down to Earth had earlier reported how Egypt was estimated to be at the highest risk of importation of COVID-19 infection among all African countries.

The modelling study published in The Lancet on February 19, 2020, pointed towards discrepancies in the assessment of the risk COVID-19 posed in Africa assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Meanwhile, Algeria recorded a 400 per cent jump in confirmed cases between March 20 and 22, 2020.

The country reported 12 cases on March 20; the number jumped to 62 on March 22. With 50 new cases in last 48 hours, the total tally crossed 200 as on March 22, 2020.

Health minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid said the country had reached phase three of the pandemic and needed to ramp up efforts to contain the spread.

Strengthening workforce

According to media reports, the Egyptian health ministry will open 13 laboratories across governorates.

Meanwhile, Egypt suspended all international flights until March 31. It also closed educational institutions, banned large public gatherings and shortened prayer time.

As cases continued to rise, the WHO warned that lack of access to clean and safe water was likely to imperil millions of lives in the continent.

In fact, Egypt has one of the lowest water availability per capita in the world.

About 98.4 million Egyptians live under poverty water line by 50 per cent, below the international line of 1,000 m3, claimed the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics in Egypt.

While cases in South Africa, too, increased during the same period, the country has not reported any death so far.


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