Africa virus cases surpass 100,000; lockdowns slowed growth

  • FILE - In this Sunday, April 12, 2020 file photo, relatives grieve for Benedict Somi Vilakasi, a Soweto coffee shop manager who died of a COVID-19 infection in a Johannesburg hospital, at his burial ceremony at the Nasrec Memorial Park outside Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, April 16, 2020. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 12, 2020 file photo, relatives grieve for Benedict Somi Vilakasi, a Soweto coffee shop manager who died of a COVID-19 infection in a Johannesburg hospital, at his burial ceremony at the Nasrec Memorial Park outside Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, April 16, 2020. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020 file photo, a doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the breathing of a patient confirmed to have the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, at the Fann university hospital in the capital Dakar, Senegal. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020 file photo, a doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the breathing of a patient confirmed to have the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, at the Fann university hospital in the capital Dakar, Senegal. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Saturday, April 18, 2020 file photo, a boy wearing a face mask carries a small bowl of "githeri", or mixed beans and maize, for him to eat as he walks past an informational mural warning people about the risk of the new coronavirus, painted by graffiti artists from the Mathare Roots youth group, in the Mathare slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - In this Saturday, April 18, 2020 file photo, a boy wearing a face mask carries a small bowl of "githeri", or mixed beans and maize, for him to eat as he walks past an informational mural warning people about the risk of the new coronavirus, painted by graffiti artists from the Mathare Roots youth group, in the Mathare slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Thursday, May 7, 2020 file photo, members of a team dedicated to burying muslim victims of the new coronavirus spray disinfectant into the grave before burying Mohamed Ali Hassan, whose cousin said had been unaware he had the new coronavirus and died in his house in the Eastleigh area, at the Langata Muslim cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - In this Thursday, May 7, 2020 file photo, members of a team dedicated to burying muslim victims of the new coronavirus spray disinfectant into the grave before burying Mohamed Ali Hassan, whose cousin said had been unaware he had the new coronavirus and died in his house in the Eastleigh area, at the Langata Muslim cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, April 29, 2020 file photo, a resident from the Alexandra township gets tested for the new coronavirus, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - In this Wednesday, April 29, 2020 file photo, a resident from the Alexandra township gets tested for the new coronavirus, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

  • FILE - in this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, mourners gather for the burial of an elderly man suspected of dying from the new coronavirus, whose family requested not to be named, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

    FILE - in this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, mourners gather for the burial of an elderly man suspected of dying from the new coronavirus, whose family requested not to be named, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, May 22, 2020 as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 11:16 AM

JOHANNESBURG -- Africa's coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, as the continent with many fragile health systems has not yet seen the high numbers of other parts of the world.

More than 3,100 people have died from COVID-19 across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The African continent has seen roughly the same number of new cases in the past week as the week before, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, adding that 'we hope that trend continues' instead of a rapid exponential increase.

While early lockdowns in many of Africa's 54 countries slowed the growth of the pandemic, Nkengasong said 'that doesn't mean Africa has been spared.'

But he said health officials are not seeing a lot of community deaths or 'massive flooding of our hospitals' because of COVID-19.

The situation in Africa remains quite varied, the World Health Organization's emergencies chief, Mike Ryan, told reporters Friday. In the past week, four countries had an increase in virus cases of over 100%.

He noted Africa's young population, median age under 20, but said it "doesn't in any way reduce the chance the disease will spread.' And no one knows what impact the virus will have on millions of undernourished people and overcrowded refugee camps. 'So there's still a lot to be learned.'

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Testing in Africa remains low. Nkengasong said the continent needs to test about 10 times the number of people it has already tested. It should strive to test at least 1% of the population, or 13 million people, but so far only 1.3 million to 1.4 million tests have been conducted. Shortages of equipment remain a problem.

Countries with fragile health systems and a recent history of conflict like Somalia and South Sudan remain a worry for health officials as cases rise. And in Tanzania, where the president claims the virus has been defeated by prayer, the government hasn't updated its case numbers in three weeks.


South Africa has been testing assertively and leads the continent with more than 19,000 cases.

Africa's worst-case scenario, according to published models, would see more than 3 million infected and more than 300,000 deaths and 'that would be overwhelming for sure,' Nkengasong said. But he warned that 'models are only as good as the assumptions we put in there.'

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