While the spread of the coronavirus is advancing in the U.S., Italy, Spain, and Iran, Africa is in the early stages but beginning to see a spike in cases.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have an opportunity to curb the spread of coronavirus in the local population, but that window of opportunity is narrowing, the World Health Organization said.
“It has been a very dramatic evolution,” Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Africa head, told a media teleconference, according to Reuters.
She said that African countries should be working on containment while preparing for a possible, broader expansion of the virus.
“We still have a window… it is narrowing every day as data on the geographic spread to more and more countries tell us,” Moeti said.
The spread of the virus in Africa has been slower than in Asia and Europe. The first case in Africa was reported in Egypt on Feb. 14. Nigeria reported sub-Saharan Africa’s first official case on Feb. 28.
Since then, countries like Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, and Senegal have seen spikes in cases. South Africa’s confirmed cases reached 1,170 on March 27. Egypt has reported 456 cases of the coronavirus in the country, including 21 deaths.
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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the escalating case numbers by ordering a 21-day nationwide and military-patrolled lockdown that began on March 27 in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, according to AlJazeera.