Johannesburg, South Africa, Mar 21 – Sub-Saharan Africa recorded its second coronavirus death on Friday as infections rose in South Africa, where the government warned bluntly of a long haul in the fight against the disease.
Despite stringent restrictions ranging from flight bans to school closures, countries south of the Sahara have recorded two deaths in three days, and the case tally on Friday had more than tripled in the space of a week.
The central African state of Gabon announced its first fatality from coronavirus — a 50-year-old man, whose death followed that of a 62-year-old woman in Burkina Faso on Wednesday. Both had diabetes.
The total of known cases across all of Africa, compiled by AFP, stands at more than 900 and is rising fast after lagging other continents. Madagascar, with three, and Zimbabwe, with one, recorded their first cases on Friday.
Health experts have issued loud warnings, for most African countries are desperately short of intensive-care units, equipment and trained staff. The Sahel state of Mali has just a single respirator.
– South African warning –
Ballooning from one case two weeks ago to 202 on Friday, South Africa has the highest numbers in the subcontinent.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize pointed to established scientific projections showing that infections “ultimately can affect up to 60 percent of the population.”
But it “doesn’t mean they will all be affected at the same time, doesn’t mean that they will all have serious illness. It just means that the way the viral infection spreads, that will likely happen,” Mkhize said.
The virus is “going to be with us for quite a while,” he warned. South Africa has started drive-through tests for the coronavirus, but the high cost — more than $50 — is beyond the means of most people © AFP / MARCO LONGARI “It’s a reality we must face, but it’s not a reality that says we now face an apocalypse.”
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said South Africa had prevented foreign nationals who arrived Friday in 20 international flights from high-risk countries from disembarking.One of the flights was an Air China plane that landed at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport from Shenzhen.Only South Africans were allowed to disembark while 68 Chinese nationals were refused permission to leave the aircraft.The country’s flag carrier, South African Airways, suspended all regional and international flights until the end of May in line with government-imposed travel bans aimed at curbing the spread of […]