Countries in Africa recorded a surge in the number of coronavirus cases across the continent on July 29, confirming nearly 14,000 new cases in 24 hours, AllAfrica reported on Wednesday.
“As of July 29, [health authorities] confirmed the Covid-19 [Chinse coronavirus] case total from 55 African countries has reached 874,035,” the African news outlet wrote, noting that the number marked an increase of almost 14,000 cases from the previous day.
According to AllAfrica, the number of reported coronavirus deaths across the continent “reached 18,497” on Wednesday, with the number of recovered coronavirus patients totaling 524,556.
“South Africa has the most reported cases – 459,761, with deaths numbering 7,257. Other most-affected countries include Egypt (92,947), Nigeria (41,804), Algeria (28,615), and Ghana (34,406),” the report stated.
“The [Chinese coronavirus] numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well national and regional public health departments [in Africa],” AllAfrica noted.
With nearly 500,000 reported cases, South Africa now has the fifth-highest official coronavirus caseload in the world, though experts believe these numbers are distorted by rogue states such as China, Russia, and North Korea not accurately documenting their cases. Its 471,123 cases at press time on Wednesday account for more than half of the African continent’s number of coronavirus cases.
In March, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed one of the world’s strictest quarantines, severely limiting people’s movement and banning gatherings in the country. In June, he eased some of South Africa’s lockdown measures, which had strangled the economy and cut off many citizens from their source of income. The number of coronavirus infections has surged since then, however, prompting Ramaphosa to reinstate a night-time curfew and an alcohol sales ban last week.
Despite the government’s repeated efforts to contain South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak, the country is now closing in on half a million cases. A top South African epidemiologist told scientific journal Nature on July 24 that he expects the number of coronavirus cases in the country to exceed one million.
“Since there are communities in South Africa where social distancing and frequent hand washing is not feasible, mainly in informal settlements, I am expecting the number of cases to rise substantially, possibly exceeding a million,” Salim Abdool Karim, the chair of the South African health ministry’s Scientific Advisory Committee, predicted.
Despite South Africa’s staggeringly high number of cases, health authorities believe the country’s true number of cases — and those of most African nations — to be much higher than officially reported, owing to the government’s lack of transparency and insufficient testing.
“The official death toll [for South Africa] stands at 6,000, but as with other [African] countries, this is likely to be an undercount,” the South African Medical Research Council told Nature on July 24.
Africa has tested just 7.2 million people for the Chinese coronavirus so far, a low number compared to the continent’s population of 1.3 billion people.