The World Health Organization says the pandemic in Africa is “accelerating” and, while it took 98 days for the continent to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases, it took just 18 days to grow to 200,000 cases.
WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said Thursday that community transmission has begun in more than half of Africa’s 54 countries and “this is a serious sign.”
The virus largely arrived on the continent via travelers from Europe and is spreading beyond capital cities and commercial hubs into more rural areas where many health systems are unequipped to handle cases that require intensive care.
In this photo taken Monday, June 1, 2020, truck drivers entering Kenya queue to be tested for the coronavirus on the Kenya side of the Namanga border crossing with Tanzania. Africa’s long-haul truckers carry food, fuel and other essential supplies along dangerous roads, but now they say they are increasingly accused of carrying the coronavirus as well. The drivers say they are stigmatized and even threatened in some countries. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
Moeti pointed out South Africa, where the virus has spread from Western Cape province centered on Cape Town into the more rural Eastern Cape. South Africa has the continent’s highest number of cases with more than 55,000.
Moeti said: “I’m afraid we probably will have to live with a steady increase” of cases in Africa until an effective vaccine is found. Africa has more than 209,000 cases, still a small fraction – less than 3 percent - of the global total.