Number of coronavirus cases in the African continent reached 66,373 with 3,048 new infections over the past 24 hours, said the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.

The continent’s death toll rose to 2,336, while the number of recoveries stood at 23,095.

According to the update, North Africa continues to be the hardest-hit of the five geographic regions of the continent with 23,000 cases, while West Africa has 19,600 cases, Southern Africa 11,400, East Africa 6,500 and Central Africa 5,900.

In terms of deaths, North Africa records 1,300 fatalities, West Africa 416, Southern Africa 225, Central Africa 229 and East Africa 199.

The number of patients who have recovered in North Africa has gone up to 8,600, in West Africa to 5,700, Southern Africa 4,600, East Africa 2,400 and in Central Africa to 1,900.

AfCFTA silver lining to COVID-19

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could help African economies recover from the impact of the pandemic, Stephen Karingi, the director of regional integration and trade at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) told an online group of journalists on May 11.

“Boosting intra-African trade can serve as an alternative stimulus package for job creation, foreign exchange, industrial development and economic growth,” an ECA press release quoted Karingi as saying.

He said that if Africa had implemented agreements and frameworks such as the AfCFTA, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, and Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa plan, “[African] economies would have been more diversified, stronger, and less affected by COVID-19.”

But the trade expert also noted: “COVID-19 has proven that African countries can adapt and respond to demand.”

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 286,600 worldwide, with total infections more than 4.19 million, while recoveries exceeded 1.46 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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