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Africa/Global: Coronavirus Updates

AfricaFocus Bulletin
March 16, 2020 (2020-03-16)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

On March 15, President Ramaphosa of South Africa declared coronavirus to be a national disaster, and a Science magazine report from Cape Town called the virus a “ticking timebomb” for the African continent. African countries gained a window of opportunity in which to hold off the onslaught, thanks to their relative isolation from international air traffic and their smart preparations based on experience with Ebola. But it appears this window may now be closing.

To date, most of the cases in Africa have been imported from Europe, as illustrated by the map below from March 11. The World Health Organization and African countries have been expanding testing capacity over the last few weeks, and travel restrictions are now being enacted, particularly on Europe, North America, and other highly affected areas. But it is increasingly likely that community transmission is beginning, as happened several weeks ago in the United States.

The most important personal advice which I am hearing repeatedly from well-informed Facebook friends in Italy, Mozambique, and the United States is to take the need for social distancing seriously. In other words, stay at home as much as possible and minimize the chances for the virus to spread.

For a clear explanation, visit

AfricaFocus readers are concentrated in North America, Africa, and Europe, and most of you are probably receiving good information from local health authorities. This very short bulletin from AfricaFocus suggests additional sources that I have found useful, with particular reference to the situation in Africa.

Additional updates may be posted on the AfricaFocus Facebook page at

For regularly updated and reliable data, you can visit the WHO Africa portal at

A custom Google News search for articles in the 7 days preceding your search is available at

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on health, visit

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

Map data as of March 11, 2020

Coronavirus Updates – Global and General Background

For general background one of the most usable sites is, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. Among useful pages on that site are an infographic with basic facts and an explanation of social distancing.

Much additional information can be found on the website of the World Health Organization ( and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (

For regularly updated statistical data on cases around the world, there are two sites which provide good visualizations of the situation. was launched by a 17-year old student in Seattle, Washington, the earliest location of large-scale transmission of the virus in the United States. provides more fine-grained data.

A very useful explanation of how the virus spread in South Korea is available from Reuters.

Coronavirus Updates – Africa-specific Information

The Africa office of the World Health Organization regulates updates data on coronavirus on the continent, including situation reports, news articles, and a map-based dashboard. The link to the website is

For articles on coronavirus in Africa in the last 7 days (from the time of your search), you can use this customized Google News search:

The most helpful detailed single article I have found is this Science magazine report from Cape Town dated March 15: ‘A ticking time bomb’: Scientists worry about coronavirus spread in Africa.

A few additional articles I have found of particular interest in recent days:

March 16 – Latest update from BBC

March 16 – Coronavirus testing in Africa, including development of new UK-Senegal rapid test.

March 15 – President Ramaphosa declares national disaster, including school closings and travel bans from highly-infected countries including the United States.

March 15 – African countries imposing travel restrictions from affected countries outside Africa.

March 15 - Many of Africa's cases have been brought by Europeans.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see

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