Monday, March 8

Covid cases cross 2.5 mn in Africa, virus rages globally

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The number of coronavirus cases in Africa crossed 2.5 million on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, as a second wave of Covid-19 infections have hit the continent. Countries such as DR Congo, Nigeria, Mauritania, Ghana and Ivory Coast have seen a sharp rise in cases, according to a Reuters tally.

Quick measures including travel restrictions and border closures enabled countries in Africa to limit the spread when first cases were reported in March. But the economic impact of the measures prompted governments to ease them.

As people have somewhat relaxed their guards, infections have spiked. According to a Reuters analysis, Africa has reported about 454,000 new cases in the past 30 days, nearly 18% of its reported total of 2.5 million cases.

South Africa remains the worst-affected African country with 912,477 cases and 24,539 deaths. The country has seen a sharp spike in infections since the start of December.

Elsewhere, in Thailand, thousands of people lined up for coronavirus tests in a province near Bangkok on Sunday, as authorities scrambled to contain an outbreak that has infected nearly 700 people. Lines of mainly migrant workers stretched for around 100 metres in one location alone in Mahachai in Samut Sakhon province, as health officials in mobile units methodically took nasal swabs.

The US added a record of nearly a quarter million coronavirus cases in one day. Along with 249,709 new cases, there were an additional 2,814 reported deaths nationwide in the past 24 hours.

Also in the US, top congressional lawmakers struck a late-night agreement on the last major obstacle to a Covid-19 economic relief package costing nearly $1 trillion, clearing the way for votes as early as Sunday. A Democratic aide told AFP that an agreement had been reached late on Saturday and that compromise language was being finalised to seal a deal to be unveiled on Sunday.

In neighbouring Canada, while almost 12,000 people received shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, worries remained as the nationwide tally of cases crossed the grim half-a-million mark.