A plane carrying a group of 122 South Africans who are returning from coronavirus-hit Wuhan, China, arrived at the Polokwane international airport, the group will be then quarantine at the Protea Hotel's The Ranch Resort. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
A plane carrying a group of 122 South Africans who are returning from coronavirus-hit Wuhan, China, arrived at the Polokwane international airport, the group will be then quarantine at the Protea Hotel's The Ranch Resort. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Coronavirus in Africa: Rwanda, Namibia, eSwatini confirm first cases of virus

By Sihle Mlambo, Clement Uwiringiyimana, Nyasha Nyaungwa and Lunga Masuku Time of article published Mar 14, 2020

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Johannesburg - Rwanda, Namibia and eSwatini on Saturday confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus as it continues to spread rapidly through the continent. 

This means at least 20 countries on the African continent now have the Covid-19 virus within their borders. 

The affected countries on the continent include: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, eSwatini, Namibia and Rwanda.

Out of the more than 5 500 deaths at the hands of Covid-19 around the world, there have been seven deaths on the African continent. 

Africa Coronavirus Deaths

Egypt - 2 

Sudan - 1 

Algeria - 3 

Morocco - 1

Total - 7

In South Africa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday announced that the number of positive coronavirus cases in the country had risen to 24. He warned that there were likely more positive cases and they were awaiting laboratory confirmation ahead of making an announcement. 

On Saturday afternoon, Rwanda was one of three African countries to confirm its first case of coronavirus within its borders. The country said an Indian citizen who arrived in the East African nation from Mumbai on March 8 tested positive for Covid-19, the Health Ministry in that country said on Saturday.

The Rwandan government said the Indian national had no symptoms upon arrival, but presented himself to a health facility on March 13. 

"He is currently under treatment in stable condition, isolated from other patients," the ministry said.

"The tracing of all contacts has been conducted for further management."

RwandAir, the country's national airline, also announced it was suspending all flights to India until April 30 and would refund customers.

Africa had until now largely been spared the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 127,000 people and killed more than 5 500 worldwide.

Also on Saturday, Namibia reported its first case of the coronavirus when a Spanish couple who arrived in the Southern African country on Wednesday both tested positive. They had been quarantined, said Namibian Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula.

The Namibian government would continue with plans to celebrate Namibia's Independence Day on March 21, Shangula told a press conference.

In eSwatini, a small, land-locked Southern African country, reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the minister of health said in a statement on Saturday.

A 33-year-old woman, who returned from the United States at the end of February and then travelled to Lesotho before returning home to eSwatini, is currently in isolation, Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi said. 

IOL and Reuters

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