ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

The total number of coronavirus cases in Africa surged to 216,446, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an update on Friday.

According to the latest data, 5,756 people have died of virus-related complications, while 97,756 patients have recovered.

Central Africa has so far recorded 22,208 cases, 457 deaths and 8,014 recoveries; East Africa 24,418 cases, 719 deaths and 8,189 recoveries North Africa 61,615 cases, 2,454 deaths and 26,718 recoveries; Southern Africa 61,772 cases, 1,239 deaths and 33,156 recoveries; and West Africa 46,433 cases, 887 deaths and 20,991 recoveries.

South Africa has 25% of the total number of cases in the continent while Egypt is the worst affected in terms of deaths toll that has now stood at 1,377.

The pandemic has killed more than 418,000 people worldwide, with the total number of infections surpassing 7.4 million, while over 3.5 million people have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Cases ‘accelerating’

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa office said the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” in Africa.

It took 98 days to reach 100,000 cases and only 19 days to move to 200 000 cases, according to the WHO.

“For now Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

“But the pace of the spread is quickening. Swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low but constant vigilance is needed to stop COVID-19 from overwhelming health facilities,” she added.

In recent weeks, African countries began to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions. “The shutdowns have come at considerable socioeconomic cost,” the statement said.

“Stay-at-home orders and closing of markets and businesses have taken a heavy toll, particularly on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

“So, the need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods is a key consideration in this response, particularly in Africa,” Moeti added.

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