Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.
After a delayed arrival of the novel coronavirus, there are now more than 720 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 20 related deaths across Africa. With the head of the World Health Organization warning the continent to “prepare for the worst,” African leaders are turning to extraordinary measures to try and slow the pandemic’s spread before it can overwhelm their fragile health systems.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the continent came only in mid-February, weeks after the outbreak had spread to much of the rest of the world. That allowed African health officials time to put surveillance measures in place and shore up their testing capacity. Forty-three countries in Africa should soon have the ability to test for the coronavirus, up from two when the outbreak first began.