Eight months after the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic, Africa on Thursday crossed the mark of one million cases of the new coronavirus, more than half of which in South Africa, while many countries have stepped up health measures and restrictions in fear of a second wave of the disease that has infected more than 19 million people worldwide.
Just over a million cases have been officially declared in Africa, the continent so far least affected before Oceania, according to an AFP count at 9:30 p.m. GMT. The pandemic has killed 21,724 there, including 9,604 in South Africa alone where 538,184 cases have been recorded. These figures are only part of the story, as many African countries with failing health systems have limited screening capacities.
Egypt has recorded nearly 95,000 cases and Nigeria nearly 45,000.
Globally, more than 19 million cases have been reported in total, including one million in four days, and more than 712,000 people have died.
Faced with the continuing pandemic, many countries have implemented new measures.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has declared a new phase of strict containment, scheduled to last six weeks.
Praised for its effective management of the first epidemic wave, Australia has seen the reappearance of centers of contamination in Melbourne and its region, which have pushed the authorities to gradually tighten the health system.
In Britain, authorities have decided that travelers from Belgium, Andorra or the Bahamas arriving in England and Scotland will again be subject to quarantine from Saturday, due to a “significant increase” cases of the new coronavirus in these countries.
– “Extremely delicate situation”
Finland, one of the continent’s most spared countries, announced Thursday that it was preparing new measures to respond to an accelerating epidemic.
“The situation is extremely delicate,” said the strategic director of the Ministry of Health, Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, adding that a “form of second phase had started”, although it was too early to speak of “second wave”.
Norway has announced that it will return France to the red zone due to the resurgence of coronavirus cases, leading to a mandatory ten-day quarantine for all travelers arriving from France in the Scandinavian country.
In France, where the number of people diagnosed positive for the virus has increased by more than 30% in one week, the mask has become mandatory even outdoors in the busiest areas of cities such as Toulouse, Tours or Saint-Tropez, the famous popular jet set resort on the French Riviera.
The same will soon happen in Paris, as the scientific body guiding the government has deemed it “highly likely that a second epidemic wave will be observed in the autumn or winter.”
A similar measure came into effect in Amsterdam’s Red Light District and Rotterdam’s shopping districts.
Greece has announced for its part that it will close its land borders, except with Bulgaria, to travelers at night. Emergency health measures have been taken on the small tourist island of Poros, near Athens.
Ireland, for its part, has decided to postpone the last phase of its deconfinement, which includes the reopening of all pubs.
And Germany has just classified the Belgian province of Antwerp as a risk zone, with compulsory quarantine for coming travelers, unless they present a negative test.
– Door to door in Catalonia –
In Spain, Catalonia continued a vast detection campaign, sometimes door-to-door, in three medium-sized towns in an attempt to curb the rise in contagions.
Europe remains the most affected region with more than 212,000 of the 709,000 deaths recorded worldwide since the discovery of the pandemic in China in December 2019.
Across the world, the death toll has doubled since May 26, and 100,000 more deaths have been detected in just under three weeks.
The United States remains the most affected country, with more than 1,200 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the toll to more than 158,000. Brazil, the second most bereaved country with nearly 100,000 dead, announced on Thursday 53,139 new contaminations and 1,237 new deaths.
The American authorities, however, announced the lifting of their recommendation calling on American citizens to avoid all travel abroad.
American diplomacy has indicated that it will now treat each country again on a case-by-case basis. France, UK and Germany are classified as ‘level 3’ – travel to be avoided if possible.
Contrary to his own, more cautious experts, President Donald Trump said Thursday that a vaccine could be produced before the US presidential election on November 3.
“There should be a global consensus to make any vaccine a common public good,” he pleaded.