In Africa, there are now more than 2,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and growing warnings that the pandemic will cause major challenges for the continent under-resourced health services.
There have been 60 reported deaths so far. World Health Organization officials have said the statistics are likely to significantly underestimate the true number of cases.
About a third of the cases are in South Africa, which recorded a steep rise overnight. The country’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said on Wednesday that the number of coronavirus cases had reached 709, up from 554 a day before.
Other countries with high numbers of cases include Algeria, with 264, and Egypt, on 402. The first case has been reported in Libya.
Most African nations have imposed restrictions and taken a range of extraordinary measures to try to combat the crisis. Many flights have been suspended, with entries for travelers from much of Europe and the US effectively impossible.
Rwanda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have all imposed curfews and lockdowns in recent days.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said that he and other top Kenyan officials would forego much of their salaries, and announced a package of support for one of Africa’s most dynamic economies.
Authorities in the DRC, which has recorded 48 cases, are seeking to isolate the capital, Kinshasa, from the rest of the country, while Ethiopia is to release more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to decongest crowded jails, according to state media.
Mali recorded its first cases on Wednesday. Officials in the poor, unstable state recently denied reports it had only one ventilator for its 17 million inhabitants, saying it had 56.
There are fears that lockdowns will bring significant hardship for the continent’s poor, many of whom live hand to mouth without formal employment.