Africa COVID-19 deaths top 12,000 as infections soar

A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. /Reuters

Africa’s number of COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise by the day, with various countries on the continent reporting a recent spike in new daily cases.

According to data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa had by Saturday morning reported 543,136 cases and 12,474 deaths.

Since the February outbreak of the disease in the continent, all countries in Africa have gone on to register cases.

The disease has killed some of the continent’s notable figures, including the former President of the Republic of the Congo Jacques Joachim Yhombi-Opango, Nigerien minister of employment and labour Mohamed Ben Omar, Somalia’s former Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and Cameroonian Afri-Jazz musician and songwriter Manu Dibango.

The latest figures come as an expert heading a potential COVID-19 vaccine trial in South Africa said earlier this week Africa could have a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 if the ongoing human trials are successful.

The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 experimental vaccine is one of 19 being tested on humans globally as the world looks to beat the pandemic.

The potential vaccine is also being tested in Brazil by Oxford University scientists who are working with British drugmaker AstraZeneca on development and production.

And as the fight against COVID-19 continues, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom called for unity in the war, saying lack of leadership is a bigger threat to the world than the pandemic itself.

“My friends, make no mistake. The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. Rather, it is the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels,” Tedros said in a press briefing on Thursday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of global solidarity and global leadership. The virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite.”

Tedros’ remarks came following the withdrawal of the United States from the WHO.