Africa: Several African Countries Confirm First Coronavirus Cases

An aerial view of Kigali Convention Centre and its environs in Kimihurura.

Several African countries have confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus, while Rwanda has become the first nation in Africa to be placed on lockdown.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1,000 cases had been reported across Africa as of Sunday.

In Uganda, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng announced the first case, saying that a man flew into the country from Dubai on Saturday and was in stable condition.

In Angola, Health Minister Silvia Lutucuta said Saturday that two male residents who flew back from Portugal March 17-18 tested positive for COVID-19.

Eritrea said its first case of the coronavirus was a 39-year-old Eritrean who had arrived from Norway.

Zimbabwe reported its first case Friday, and a second Saturday, while the island of Mauritius, with 14 cases, reported its first death, a person who had traveled from Belgium via Dubai.

Nigeria with the largest population in Africa reported Saturday that the number of infections in the country rose to 22.

In South Africa, the country with the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of confirmed infections rose to 240 Saturday.

Rwanda with 17 reported positive cases of COVID-19, became the first nation in Africa to be placed on lockdown for at least 14 days in an effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement issued by the office of the prime minister said that “observing the global trend of the COVID-19 pandemic, and considering the experiences of other countries, there is a clear need to take additional steps to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread further in Rwanda.”

According to the statement, beginning Saturday at 11:59 p.m., unnecessary movement and visits outside the home were not permitted by the country’s 12 million citizens, except for essential services such as health care, food shopping, or banking, and for the personnel performing such services.

The statement adds that all employees, public and private, are to work from home, except for those providing essential services.

Additionally, travel between cities and districts of the country is not permitted, except for medical reasons or essential services. All bars are closed.

Rwanda has also closed its borders, except for shipments of goods and cargo and returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents, who will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated locations. 

Many other African countries have already closed their borders, schools and universities, and prohibited large public gatherings.

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