COVID-19 pandemic in Africa

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COVID-19 pandemic in Africa
COVID-19 Outbreak Africa Map.svg
Map of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in Africa as of 23 May 2021
  1,000,000+ Confirmed cases
  100,000–999,999 Confirmed cases
  10,000–99,999 Confirmed cases
  1,000–9,999 Confirmed cases
  0–999 Confirmed cases
  No cases or insufficient data
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseCairo, Egypt
Arrival date14 February 2020
(2 years, 7 months, 2 weeks and 6 days ago)
Confirmed cases11,984,539 (as of 10 May)[1]
Active cases562,295 (as of 10 May)[1]
Recovered11,168,212 (as of 10 May)[1]
254,032 (as of 10 May)[1]

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Africa on 14 February 2020, with the first confirmed case announced in Egypt.[2][3] The first confirmed case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria at the end of February 2020.[4] Within three months, the virus had spread throughout the continent, as Lesotho, the last African sovereign state to have remained free of the virus, reported a case on 13 May 2020.[5][6] By 26 May, it appeared that most African countries were experiencing community transmission, although testing capacity was limited.[7] Most of the identified imported cases arrived from Europe and the United States rather than from China where the virus originated.[8]

In early June 2021, Africa faced a third wave of COVID infections with cases rising in 14 countries.[9] By 4 July the continent recorded more than 251,000 new Covid cases, a 20% increase from the prior week and a 12% increase from the January peak. More than sixteen African countries, including Malawi and Senegal, recorded an uptick in new cases.[10] The World Health Organization labelled it Africa's 'Worst Pandemic Week Ever'.[11]

Many preventive measures have been implemented by different countries in Africa. These include travel restrictions, flight cancellations, event cancellations,[12] school closures, and border closures.[13] It is believed that there is widespread under-reporting in many African countries with less developed healthcare systems.[14] According to the autumn 2020 seroprevalence study in Juba in South Sudan, less than 1% of infected were actually reported.[15] Similar results were found in 2022 by WHO modelers.[16]

New variants of concern of the virus were found in Africa: in February 2020 the Beta variant in South Africa,[17] in December 2020 the Eta variant in Nigeria,[18][19] and in November 2021 the Omicron variant in Botswana.[20]

The African Union secured close to 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the largest such agreement yet for Africa; it was announced on 13 January 2021. This is independent of the global Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (COVAX) effort aimed at distributing COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.[21] Notably, however, African countries were being charged more than double what European countries had to pay for certain vaccines.[22] The Group of Seven (G-7) promised an equitable distribution of vaccines on 19 February 2021, although few details were provided.[23] The United Arab Emirates has also stepped forward as a vaccine provider for the continent.[24][25]

Despite these breakthroughs, Africa is the world's least vaccinated continent.[26] At the beginning of June 2021 the World Health Organization reported that COVID-19 vaccine shipments had ground to a "near halt" in Africa.[27] On 8 June, the Sudanese-British billionaire philanthropist Mo Ibrahim sharply criticized the international community for failing to ensure equitable vaccine distribution across the globe.[28] By 8 July 2021, only 2% of the continent had been inoculated.[10]

Several African governments are experiencing criticism for a perceived lack of readiness, corruption scandals, and forcing new lockdowns too late, undermining trust in the state. Currently, twenty of the 39 nations on the World Bank's harmonised list of fragile and conflict-affected states are in Africa.[29][30]

To support the COVID-19 recovery, Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole would need to raise expenditure by around 6% of GDP ($100 billion), whereas MENA would need to boost spending by 9% of GDP.[31][32]

Overall history[edit]

By the second week of June 2020, Africa had surpassed 200,000 cases in total.[33] The number of confirmed new cases accelerated in June, with the continent having taken 98 days to record the first 100,000 cases, and 18 days for the second 100,000. The pace of acceleration has continued, with cases passing both the 300,000 and 400,000 marks on 6 July. On 8 July 2020, cases had exceeded half a million. Half of the 500,000 cases reported in the continent are from South Africa or Egypt.[34] Ten countries account for 80% of the reported cases.[34] The World Health Organization voiced alarm at the spread in Africa on 20 July 2020, stating that South Africa's surging numbers could be a precursor for further outbreaks across the continent.[35] The number exceeded a million by 6 August, with five countries making up over 75% of the total confirmed cases: South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia and Nigeria.[36] The true case numbers are believed to be significantly higher than the confirmed counts, due to low testing rates in many African countries.[37] The mortality rates of African countries, however, are relatively low compared to Europe due to the younger age of their populations.[36] On 21 August the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) expressed "cautious optimism" as the number of new cases took a downturn, while warning against complacency.[38] In some countries, the number of cases began to rise. On 29 October, John Nkengasong, the head of Africa CDC, said: "The time to prepare for a second wave is truly now."[39]

On 12 November, Africa CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that confirmed cases have been increasing since July, particularly in North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco and Libya). The curve has flattened in South Africa and Kenya, while Senegal and Equatorial Guinea have seen a steady decline.[40]

During the summer of 2021, the number of cases increased and reached almost 202,000 a week by 27 June.[41] As of 13 July 2021, 22 of the 55 African states had reported cases of the Delta variant.[41]

For the first time since the apex of the fourth wave generated by the Omicron strain, the weekly number of COVID-19 cases in Africa has "significantly decreased," and the number of deaths has also decreased, according to a statement released by the World Health Organization on Thursday, 10 February 2022.[42]


Total confirmed cases by country[edit]

Daily cases for the most infected African countries:

The number of active cases by country.[43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54]

Confirmed cases by country and territory[edit]

Summary table of confirmed cases in Africa (as of 14 August 2022)
Country/Territory Cases Active cases Recoveries Deaths Ref
South Africa 4,008,164 8,575 3,897,607 101,982 [1]
Morocco 1,263,373 1,119 1,245,986 16,286 [1]
Tunisia 1,139,241 N/A N/A 29,153 [1]
Egypt 515,645 48,850 442,182 24,613 [1]
Libya 505,956 8,549 490,973 6,434 [1]
Ethiopia 492,738 14,171 470,998 7,569 [1]
Réunion 445,337 25,912 418,572 853 [1]
Kenya 337,938 201 332,064 5,673 [1]
Zambia 331,925 1,329 326,580 4,016 [1]
Botswana 325,824 95 322,955 2,774 [1]
Algeria 269,008 81,422 180,688 6,878 [1]
Nigeria 262,520 3,228 256,145 3,147 [1]
Zimbabwe 256,522 301 250,634 5,587 [1]
Mozambique 229,859 257 227,383 2,219 [1]
Uganda 169,396 65,337 100,431 3,628 [1]
Namibia 169,253 375 164,813 4,065 [1]
Ghana 168,350 141 166,751 1,458 [1]
Rwanda 132,354 85 130,803 1,466 [1]
Cameroon 120,967 575 118,459 1,933 [1]
Angola 102,636 282 100,437 1,917 [1]
Democratic Republic of the Congo 92,456 7,829 83,236 1,391 [1]
Senegal 87,752 210 85,574 1,968 [1]
Malawi 87,710 917 84,120 2,673 [1]
Ivory Coast 86,092 224 85,053 815 [1]
Eswatini 73,326 36 71,871 1,419 [1]
Madagascar 66,557 239 64,909 1,409 [1]
Sudan 63,128 N/A N/A 4,960 [1]
Mauritania 62,705 135 61,578 992 [1]
Cape Verde 62,253 110 61,742 410 [1]
Gabon 48,592 483 47,803 306 [1]
Burundi 48,002 2,417 45,547 38 [1]
Seychelles 45,692 177 45,347 168 [1]
Mayotte 39,986 N/A N/A 187 [1]
Mauritius 39,931 788 38,124 1,019 [1]
Togo 38,273 73 37,919 281 [1]
Tanzania 38,205 N/A N/A 841 [1]
Guinea 37,470 260 36,763 447 [1]
Lesotho 34,206 7,762 27,740 702 [1]
Mali 31,244 83 30,422 739 [1]
Benin 27,316 41 27,112 163 [1]
Somalia 27,020 12,488 13,182 1,350 [1]
Republic of the Congo 24,837 807 23,644 386 [1]
Burkina Faso 21,128 109 20,632 387 [1]
South Sudan 17,823 350 17,335 138 [1]
Equatorial Guinea 16,892 178 16,531 183 [1]
Djibouti 15,690 74 15,427 189 [1]
Central African Republic 14,803 170 14,520 113 [1]
Gambia 12,238 279 11,591 368 [1]
Eritrea 10,134 74 9,957 103 [1]
Niger 9,132 42 8,779 311 [1]
Guinea-Bissau 8,452 29 8,249 174 [1]
Comoros 8,351 33 8,157 161 [1]
Sierra Leone 7,740 N/A N/A 126 [1]
Liberia 7,578 62 7,222 294 [1]
Chad 7,444 2,377 4,874 193 [1]
São Tomé and Principe 6,120 4 6,040 76 [1]
Western Sahara 10 0 9 1 [1]
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha 6 1 6 0 [55][56][57]
Totals 12,573,300 299,665 10,765,476 257,132

Timeline by country and territory[edit]


The first case in the country was confirmed on 25 February. On the morning of 2 March, Algeria confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, a woman and her daughter.[58] On 3 March, Algeria reported another two new cases of the coronavirus. The two new cases were from the same family, a father and daughter, and were living in France.[59] On 4 March, the Ministry of Health recorded four new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all from the same family, bringing the total number to 12 confirmed cases.[60][59]

According to WHO prediction modelling estimates Algeria faces a relatively high risk for a spread of COVID-19 if containment measures such as contact tracing are not prioritized.[61]


On 21 March, the first two cases in the country were confirmed.[62] Effective 20 March, all Angolan borders were closed for 15 days.[63]

As of 18 April 2020, there were a total of 19 confirmed cases, two deaths and six recovered cases.[64]

By December 2020 the total confirmed cases was 17,433, with 10,859 recoveries and 405 deaths. There were 6,169 active cases at the end of the month.[65]


On 16 March 2020, the first case in the country was confirmed.[66] As of 18 April, there was a total of 35 confirmed cases, one death and 18 recovered cases.[64]

The total number of confirmed cases was 3,251 in December. There were 3,061 recovered patients, 44 deaths, and 146 active cases at the end of the year.[67]


On 30 March, the first three cases in Botswana were confirmed.[68]

To prevent the further spread of the disease, the government has banned gatherings of more than 50 people and the entry of people from countries deemed high-risk.[69][70] the borders would be closed and Citizens of Botswana are permitted to return but must be quarantined for 14 days.[71] All schools were also closed from 20 March.[72]

Burkina Faso[edit]

On 9 March 2020, the first two cases in the country were reported in Burkina Faso.[73] On 13 March, the third case was also confirmed, a person who had had direct contact with the first two cases.[74] As of 14 March, a total of seven cases had been confirmed in the country. Five of the new confirmed cases had had direct contact with the first two cases. One was an English national employed at a gold mine in the country who vacationed in Liverpool and came back on 10 March, transiting through Vancouver and Paris.[75]

As of 18 April 2020 there were a total of 557 confirmed cases, 35 deaths and 294 recovered cases.[64]

By the end of December 2020, there were 6,631 total cases, 4,978 recoveries, 1,569 active cases, and 84 deaths.[76]


On 31 March, the first two cases in the country were confirmed.[77] The president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, died during the pandemic; officially he died of a heart attack, but it is speculated that he may have died from COVID-19 with members of his family also reported to have contracted the disease.[78]


On 6 March the first case was confirmed in Cameroon.[79] According to WHO prediction modelling estimates Cameroon faces a relatively high risk for a spread of COVID-19 if containment measures such as contact tracing are not prioritized.[61]

Cameroon reported 27,336 total cases, 1,993 active cases, and 451 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is 17 deaths per one million population.[80]

Cape Verde[edit]

On 20 March, the first case in the country was confirmed, a 62-year-old from the United Kingdom.[81][82]

Central African Republic[edit]

The country's first case was announced on 14 March, with the patient being identified as a 74-year-old Italian man who returned to the Central African Republic from Milan, Italy.[83]


On 19 March, the first case in the country was confirmed.[84] Over 4,000 people so far have tested positive[85]

As a preventive measure, the government cancelled all flights into the country, except for cargo flights.[86][87]


As a preventive measure, arriving travellers were to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival. To prevent the spread of the virus, the government has cancelled all incoming flights and banned large gatherings.[88] On 15 April 2020, a person arriving in Mayotte from the Comoros tested positive for COVID-19.[89]

On 30 April, the first case was confirmed in the Comoros.[90] On 4 May, the first death was announced.[91] 54 people had been tested, and 53 contacts had been traced.[92]

Democratic Republic of the Congo[edit]

In the DRC, the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade has taken measures to boost hygiene to help slow the spread of the virus.

On 10 March, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country.[93] As of March 2021, over 25,000 people had tested positive[94][95] As of 27 July 2021, the Delta variant had been detected in 76% of analyzed samples.[41]

Prevention measures[edit]

On 19 March, President Félix Tshisekedi announced that all flights would be suspended.[96] The president imposed a state of emergency and closed the borders.[97] Schools, bars, restaurants, and places of worship were also closed.

Republic of the Congo[edit]

The country's first case was announced on 14 March, a 50-year-old man who had returned to the Republic of the Congo from Paris, France.[98]


On 18 March, the first case in Djibouti was confirmed.[1]


Egypt's health ministry announced the first case in the country at Cairo International Airport involving a Chinese national on 14 February.[99][2] On 6 March, the Egyptian Health Ministry and WHO confirmed 12 new cases of coronavirus infection.[100] The infected persons were among the Egyptian staff aboard the Nile cruise ship MS River Anuket, which was travelling from Aswan to Luxor. On 7 March 2020, health authorities announced that 45 people on board had tested positive, and that the ship had been placed in quarantine at a dock in Luxor.[101]

Egypt reported 152,719 total cases, 24,045 active cases, and 8,362 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is 81 deaths per one million population.[80]

In January 2021, the relative of a 62-year-old COVID-19 patient who died in Egypt's El Husseineya Central Hospital due to the shortage of oxygen posted a video of the hospital on Facebook. The video that showed the medical staff in distress, resuscitating a man with the help of a manual ventilator went viral on the Internet, inviting global attention concerning the government's shortcomings in handling the pandemic. Four patients had died that day and the official statement issued by the hospital concluded that the patients developed "complications", denying "any connection" of their deaths with the shortage of oxygen. An investigation led by the New York Times found otherwise in which statements given during interviews by both, the patients' relatives, as well as the medical staff, confirmed the cause of death as deprivation of oxygen.[102] Egypt began vaccinating healthcare workers on 24 January. More than 300 doctors have died.[103]

Equatorial Guinea[edit]

On 14 March, the first case in the country was confirmed.[104]


On 20 March, the first case in Eritrea was confirmed.[105]


On 14 March, the first case in the country was confirmed.[106]


The country's first case was announced on 13 March, which is a Japanese man who had arrived in the country on 4 March from Burkina Faso.[107] Three additional cases of the virus were reported on 15 March. The three individuals had close contact with the person who was reported to be infected by the virus on 13 March. Since then, eight more confirmed cases were reported by the health ministry to the public, bringing the total to twelve. Among the infected individuals an elderly Ethiopian in her eighties has been said to have some escalating symptoms while other eight have been on a recovery route and showing fewer symptoms of the disease. On 27 March, another statement was issued by the health minister stating that four additional cases have been identified while one case being in the Adama city of the Oromia regional state and the other three being in Addis Ababa. Moreover, three more cases were confirmed by the Health Minister on 31 March 2020. Similarly, the following day another three cases were added. On the previous press release the government authorities had noted that one case was retested and confirmed negative and two of the confirmed cases have been sent to their country (Japan). In aggregate, twenty-nine cases are confirmed as of 1 April 2020. On 3 April 2020 due to further tests made, six additional cases have been discovered moving up the tally to thirty-five. Measures are being taken by the government and the community together strictly to suppress the further spreading of this deadly virus. Among the six cases identified there were individuals with no traveling history recently, that has made it alarming to the public.[1]

On 4 April, three additional cases of the virus were reported. All of the cases were from Addis Ababa. Two of the patients, a 29-year-old and a 34-year-old male Ethiopians, had travel histories to Dubai on different dates. The third case is of a 35-year-old female Ethiopian who had arrived from Sweden on 3 April.[31] On the same date, one additional recovery was reported, increasing the total number of recoveries to 4.

On 5 April, five more positive cases of the virus were reported. Three of them are Ethiopians. The other two are Libyan and Eritrean nationals.[33]. There were 43 total cases as of 5 April 2020. On 7 April, more individuals were detected and the total was 54. Among 200+ tests conducted on 8 April 2020, one additional case has been added to the tally making it 55. With the current situation indicating the spread of the virus Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency.

Tilahun Woldemichael, an Ethiopian Orthodox monk who is said to be 114 years old, was released from the hospital on 25 June after being treated with oxygen and dexamethasone for coronavirus. Ethiopia has 5,200 confirmed cases.[108]

Ethiopia reported 129,455 total cases, 12,882 active cases, and 2,006 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This equals 17 deaths per one million population.[80]

Territories of France[edit]


The first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in the French overseas department and region of Mayotte was reported on 13 March 2020.[109] On 31 March the first person died of COVID-19.[110]

The single hospital in Mayotte was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients in February 2021. The French army sent in medical workers and a few ICU beds, but it is not enough.[111]


The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the French overseas department and region of Réunion on 11 March 2020.[112]


The country's first case was announced on 12 March, a 27-year-old Gabonese man who returned to Gabon from France 4 days prior to confirmation of the coronavirus.[113]

The Gambia[edit]

The Gambia reported its first case of coronavirus from a 20-year-old woman who returned from the United Kingdom on 17 March.[114]


Ghana reported its first two cases on 12 March. The two cases were people who came back to the country from Norway and Turkey, with the contact tracing process beginning.[115][116]

On 11 March, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, made the cedi equivalent of $100 million available to enhance Ghana's coronavirus preparedness and response plan.

The Ghana Health Service reported on 6 August that over 2,000 health workers had been infected and six have died.[117]

Ghana reported 56,981 total cases, 1,404 active cases, and 341 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is 11 deaths per one million population.[80]


On 13 March, Guinea confirmed its first case, an employee of the European Union delegation in Guinea.[118]

A mosque was forcefully opened by faithful in Dubréka in May.[119]


On 25 March, Guinea-Bissau confirmed its first two COVID-19 cases, a Congolese UN employee and an Indian citizen.[120]

Ivory Coast[edit]

On 11 March, the first case in the country was confirmed.[121]

Ivory Coast reported 24,369 total cases, 1,373 active cases, and 140 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is five deaths per one million population.[80]


On 12 March 2020, the first case was confirmed in Kenya by President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.[122]

On 13 March, the first case in Kenya was confirmed, a woman who came from the US via London.[123]

Kenya reported 98,555 total cases, 15,168 active cases, and 1,720 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is 32 deaths per one million population.[80]


On 13 May, the first case in Lesotho was confirmed.[6][124]

The country recorded its first death on 9 July.[125]


On 16 March, the first case in Liberia was confirmed.[126][127]

Churches and mosques were allowed to reopen as of 17 May.[119]


On 17 March, to prevent the spread of the virus, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord closed the country's borders, suspended flights for three weeks and banned foreign nationals from entering the country; schools, cafes, mosques and public gatherings have also been closed.[128]

On 24 March, the first case in Libya was confirmed.[129]

Libya reported 106,670 total cases, 21,730 active cases, and 1,629 total deaths on 13 January 2021. This is 235 deaths per one million population.[80]


On 20 March, the three first cases were confirmed in Madagascar. All were women.[130] Madagascar had a total 225 confirmed coronavirus cases, 98 recoveries, and no deaths as of 8 May 2020.[131]

Madagascar's plant-based "cure" called COVID-19 Organics is being pushed despite warnings from the World Health Organization that its efficacy is unproven. Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Guinea Bissau have all already received thousands of doses of COVID-19 Organics free of charge.[131]


On 2 April, the three first cases were confirmed in Malawi.[132]

In April 2020 the High Court of Malawi issued an order temporarily blocking the lockdown measures imposed by the government of Malawi.[133][134] In August 2020 the government of Malawi instituted additional measures including mandatory mask wearing in public areas to stem the spread of the virus[135]


On 25 March, the two first cases were confirmed in Mali.[136]


On 13 March, the first case in the country was confirmed.[137]

By 18 April 2020, there had been 7 confirmed cases in the country, 6 of whom recovered, and one died making Mauritania at the time the only affected country in Africa and in the world to become free of COVID-19.[138]

A further case was confirmed on 29 April.[139][non-primary source needed]


Since the first three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on 18 March 2020, the Mauritian authorities have been conducting 'Contact tracing': people who have been in contact with infected patients have been placed under quarantine, including doctors, nurses and police officers.[140][141][142] No cases have been reported in Rodrigues, Agaléga and St. Brandon.[143][144] On 1 May 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the ongoing COVID-19 curfew will be extended to 1 June 2020 and schools will remain closed until 1 August 2020. As of 15 May 2020, more businesses were allowed to operate, namely bakeries, hardware stores and fish markets and the opening hours of supermarkets were extended to 20 00 hrs. Banks continued to operate under strict hygiene protocol.[145][146][147] On 13 May 2020, the government elaborated strict guidelines and regulations that both commuters and public transport operators will have to adhere to. These guidelines and regulations were in line with Government's strategy to ensure that there is no risk of the propagation of COVID-19 as the country gradually prepares itself to allow certain economic activities to resume as from 15 May 2020.