'Signs of hope' as coronavirus cases level off in Africa

Director of Africa CDC John Nkengasong

Average daily cases of coronavirus in Africa fell last week, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

While the coronavirus outbreak spread slowly in Africa at the beginning of the pandemic, the rate of infection gradually accelerated especially in South Africa, which now accounts for more than half of its cases which stand at 1.1 million.

The continent-wide daily average was 10,300 last week, down from 11,000 the week before.

The director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong said: "We are beginning to bend the curve slowly" but added that "it's very, very early - we are dealing with a very delicate virus that spreads rapidly".

"We take this news with cautious optimism," he said, explaining that he didn't want people to get complacent and stop trying to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We really want our population not to show what we call 'prevention fatigue', where we slow down on the measures that we are putting in place."

Last week Africa reported a total of 73,000 new cases compared to 55,000 cases the previous week, with the reduction mostly driven by South Africa, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti said.

South Africa has 596,060 cases of coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is more than half the cases across Africa and the fifth-most cases in the world.

The country's cases have been falling, and this has been driving the fall in cases across the continent.

Dr Nkengasong also said that more than 10 million tests had been conducted across the continent, with South Africa being one of the main countries to test people. However, low levels of testing in other countries also means infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, according to some experts.