However, it is unclear to what extent the measures have been effective in some places and the level of testing on the continent is cause for concern.
Africa has carried out a fraction of the number of tests in other regions, about 685 per million people, and it is feared that official statistics do not reflect the true extent of the pandemic in Africa.
Somalia was forced to drastically revise its official statistics after it became clear that the deaths of hundreds of people from the virus in this volatile East African country had not been recorded.
Nigerian authorities also initially denied that a major epidemic in the northern city of Kano was Covid-19, and there are serious concerns that Tanzania is hiding the severity of its epidemic to protect the president , John Magufuli, who refused to ban religious services. and large gatherings.
Tanzania has reported at least 480 confirmed cases and 18 deaths, the fourth highest total in East Africa. The data is from Sunday, the last day for which the government has released figures.
Magufuli said the imported coronavirus test kits were defective after returning positive results from a goat and a papaya fruit.
Dr John Nkengasong, head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday that the tests were working very well and that African states were not doing enough testing.
“If we test, we will find … we cannot be complacent. It is a very dangerous and treacherous virus. The low number of cases should not deceive us, ”Nkengasong told reporters.
Testing in many African countries has been limited by difficulties in obtaining sufficient kits, which are the subject of fierce international competition. Some countries like Nigeria have done poor tests because they are unable to produce some of the necessary key chemical reagents locally. Health officials have called for international coordination in the supply and distribution of test kits to prevent the most vulnerable countries from losing.
A sharp increase in Ghana’s figures, showing a 42.5% increase in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the past five days, has raised concerns.
“It is a reminder that there are not enough tests going on in Africa because governments are constrained by the lack of testing capacity, especially adequate supplies of test and extraction kits, because global competition has left them in limited supply, “said Kate Dooley. , regional director for West Africa at the Tony Blair Institute in London.
There has been community transmission in South Africa for several weeks, but experts expect the pandemic to peak between July and early September.
The effort to contain the disease in South Africa, where there have been 7,808 cases and 150 deaths, has been hailed as one of the most successful in the world.
Prof. Salim Abdool Karim, senior adviser to the South African government, said the country had been following a similar trajectory to that of the United Kingdom for three weeks before its epidemic took a different turn.
“We sent 30,000 community health workers to the field and decided to go out actively to seek out epidemics and stem the tide before the cases reached hospitals,” said Karim.
South Africa has since eased its strict lockdown, allowing some exercise and the return of about one million people to work. Rwanda, Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also lifted some of the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19.
The closures have inflicted considerable hardship on hundreds of millions of people across the continent living in overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions. Many depend on income during the day for food and there are widespread reports of hunger.