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Africa faces an ‘existential threat’ as virus cases spread

Two young girls sell groundnuts in front of an informational mural advising on precautions to avoid catching the new coronavirus, in the Kibera slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, April 2, 2020. Writing on wall in Swahili reads "To prevent the spread of coronavirus avoid congested places, stay at home, don't touch your nose, cover your mouth while coughing, wash your hands, call emergency toll free line when you suspect the symptoms". (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Some African countries will have more than 10,000 coronavirus cases by the end of April, health officials projected Thursday, as the continent least equipped to treat serious infections has an “enormous gap” in the number of ventilators and other critical items.

While cases across Afrmational mural advising on precautions to avoid catching the new coronavirus, in the Kibera slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, April 2, 2020. Writing on wall in Swahili reads “To prevent the spread of coronavirus avoid congested places, stay at home, don’t touch your nose, cover your mouth while coughing, wash your hands, call emergency toll free line when you suspect the symptoms“. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)[/caption]rica are now above 6,000 at what has been called the dawn of the outbreak, the continent is “very, very close” to where Europe was after a 40-day period, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong, told reporters.

The virus “is an existential threat to our continent,” he said. All but four of Africa’s 54 countries have cases after Malawi on Thursday reported its first, and local transmission has begun in many places.

Nkengasong said authorities are “aggressively” looking into procuring equipment such as ventilators that most African countries desperately need, and local manufacturing and repurposing are being explored.

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