A Week-Long Pause in the Tanzanian Case Count? And Other Developments Across Africa

Tanzania may have paused its count of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The health system in Khartoum is collapsing as Sudan’s cases spike. And more from across the continent.


COVID-19 Africa Watch curates a selection of the latest news and the best analysis of the pandemics impact on Africa. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been following. If you want to get this weekly update straight in your inbox, subscribe here.

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The situation in Tanzania is likely worse than official numbers would suggest at the end of this week.

After hitting 480 cases on April 30, the country was declared to have the highest number in East Africa. But that’s when Tanzania stopped counting. The official number of confirmed cases was still 480 as of May 7. (Next door, in Kenya, cases have grown by 48% during the same period, from 411 to 607.) This week President Magufuli also sacked the head of the national health laboratory in charge of testing, and the opposition party says there was a cover up of the real number. Tanzanian truck drivers are still bringing in the virus when they arrive in Uganda. There are calls in Kenya to shut the border.

Major developments from across the continent

Ghana: Confirmed cases have nearly doubled in eight days, from 1,671 on April 30 to 3,091 today. This is happening about two weeks after the government started to relax lockdown restrictions. Economically, the situation is looking worse for the informal sector. 3,091 confirmed cases (as of May 8).


Kenya: Testing is expanding, as residents in Nairobi and elsewhere continue to live under lockdown. Healthcare workers, after threatening to strike last week, will now receive between KSh5,000 and 20,000 (roughly US$50 to $200) in additional monthly pay. On Wednesday, the IMF approved US$739 million in financing to help Kenya meet federal balance of payments needs. Meanwhile, there are new concerns that the port in Mombasa could be transferred to China as collateral for unpaid debt. 607 confirmed cases.


Morocco: The country passed 5,000 confirmed cases this week and has the third highest number of cases in Africa. Casablanca and Marrakech are the hardest hit cities. A prominent economist is saying Morocco needs a “new development model” that includes “a certain strategic autonomy” from global supply chains. 5,548 confirmed cases.


Nigeria: Nigeria may be headed into a second lockdown. On Wednesday, Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun eased restrictions at, perhaps, precisely the wrong moment. Social distancing protocols were widely ignored in major cities, prompting the head of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to say, “Early assessment of the ease of lock-down phase indicates that Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the deadliness and the virulent nature of COVID-19 and this gives us concerns on the high possibility of increased seeding of the virus to hitherto un-affected persons and populations.” Meanwhile, state governments are facing massive deficits and may be unable to pay wages starting in June. 3,526 confirmed cases.

Sudan: Confirmed cases have increased by over 400% in the last two weeks, from 174 on April 25 to 930 today. The health system in Khartoum appears to be at the point of collapse, and the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation has tested positive. 930 confirmed cases.


Zimbabwe: Unpaid past debt has kept Zimbabwe locked out of COVID-19 financial support from the IMF and the World Bank, even as the economy is expected to contract by 7.4%. With about 9 in 10 Zimbabweans employed in the informal economy, lockdown measures have made hunger a pressing concern (and a point of political discord). 34* confirmed cases (*unchanged since April 30).


New estimates from the WHO suggest that between 29 million and 44 million Africans could be infected within the year, with between 83,000 and 190,000 deaths. While using a different methodology, these numbers actually are less dire than the UNECA’s prior projection of between 300,000 and 3.3 million deaths. At present, the total number of confirmed cases in Africa stands at 54,027 (up 44% from last week), with 2,074 deaths (a 30% increase).


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via COVID-19 Africa Watch