Covid-19 continues rampage in Africa

Covid-19 continues rampage in Africa

A passenger waits to be tested by a medical staff member of the South Africa Health Department at a mobile testing unit at O.R Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni. Credit: AFP.

The coronavirus pandemic continued to rampage in Africa, while slowing elsewhere around the world over the past week, according to a specialised AFP database.

Here is a state of play, which could have been impacted by the Christmas holidays:

The pandemic slowed markedly this week around the world with an average of 574,500 new cases registered per day, a drop of 10 per cent compared to the previous week, according to a tally by AFP on Thursday at 1100 GMT.

Only in Africa did the number of new infections increase, by 11 per cent, confirming a trend which started at the beginning of December.

In other regions the rate of new infections slowed strongly, led by Latin America and the Caribbean, with a 13 per cent decrease, followed by the United States and Canada and Europe, both down by 11 per cent and Asia, down by seven per cent.

The pandemic stabilised in the Middle East while the virus was almost at a standstill in Oceania with just 26 cases per day, or 30 per cent less.

Despite their slowdown, Europe and the United States and Canada recorded the most cases over the week, 220,900 and 193,000 per day respectively, accounting alone for nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, of the infections registered around the world.

The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, as different countries have different counting practices and levels of testing.

On a country basis, Egypt saw the biggest spike in new cases, with an increase of 80 per cent or 1,200 new infections per day, among those which registered more than 1,000 daily cases over the past week.

Ireland followed with 61 per cent more, or 1,100 cases, Israel 49 per cent or 4,600 cases, Japan (23 per cent, 3,400), South Africa (20 per cent, 12,100), Lebanon (20 per cent, 2,100) and Britain (20 per cent, 40,500).

The biggest decrease came in Azerbaijan with 57 per cent less cases, or 1,300 per day, before Croatia, (-51 per cent, 1,200), Bulgaria (-48 per cent, 700), Hungary (-43 per cent, 1,600), Georgia (-33 per cent, 1,600) and Belgium (-30 per cent, 1,800).

The United States was again by far the country with the most new infections, with 186,600 new daily cases. Britain followed with 40,500 and Brazil with 36,200.

However, despite the high caseload, the tables are turning in the United States which saw a decrease of 12 per cent and in Brazil where cases declined by 22 precent. The situation is deteriorating in Britain with an increase of 20 per cent.

On a per capita basis Lithuania was the country with the most cases this week with 666 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The United States also registered the most deaths over the past week with an average of 2,329 per day, before Brazil (665), Mexico (655), Germany (591), Russia (566) and Britain (500).

The pandemic has killed more than 1.8 million people around the world since late December 2019 out of nearly 83 million confirmed cases. The United States continues to mourn the most deaths with 342,414, before Brazil 193,875 and India 148,738.