Testing for coronavirus in Johannesburg: South Africa has the largest number of cases on the continent
Very little now separates South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria as the worst hit by the coronavirus.
The four countries now account for about 50 percent of Africa’s confirmed cases of 28,076 as at Thursday night.
South Africa slightly leads with 3,953 cases while Egypt has 3,891.
Morocco has 3548 cases and Algeria 3,007.
Only four other Africa countries have infections in four digits.
They are Cameroon with 1,334 cases, Ghana 1154 and Ivory Coast 1,004.
Nigeria with 981 cases, Djibouti 986 and Tunisia 918 are lurking to cross the 1,000 mark.
Rising cases in Africa have become worrisome for the Africa CDC and the World Health Organisation.
WHO warned recently that the virus could kill more than 300,000 Africans and push 30 million into desperate poverty.
The continent registered a 43% jump in reported COVID-19 cases in the last week, raising fears that it could become the next epicenter of the global outbreak.
Part of the problems confronting African countries is the limited availability of testing capacity.
Nigeria for instance has capacity to test only 1,000 people a day and in reality tests about 500.
In contrast, South Africa has done 143,570 test till date. Egypt has done 90,000, while Morocco has done 21,947 tests.
Ghana with 1,154 infections had tested 68,591 people.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raised the issue of testing capacity in his weekly briefing on Thursday.
It is believed that infections on the continent are under-reported.
Meanwhile, Morocco’s Interior Ministry on Thursday announced a nationwide curfew for a month, starting on Saturday, as the COVID-19 cases rose to 3,568.
This curfew is aimed at implementing social distancing, and encouraging people to stay home from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m local time (2000 GMT to 0600 GMT) during the holy month of Ramadan which begins on Saturday.
According to the ministry in a statement, it is strictly forbidden for citizens to go out of their homes, except for the people working in vital sectors.
Morocco has extended till May 20 a public health emergency, which has restricted movements, and banned private and public means of transport between cities.
The new measures came amid fears of a major breach of the state of medical emergency during the month of Ramadan.