BBC News

Coronavirus: Is the rate of growth in Africa slowing down?

By Peter Mwai and Christopher Giles
BBC Reality Check

Published
Related Topics
  • Reality Check
image copyrightReuters
image captionPassengers boarding a bus in Lagos being given hand sanitiser
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the Covid-19 outbreak in Africa may have passed its peak, but warns governments not to be complacent as countries relax their restrictions.
The number of new daily confirmed cases overall has been dropping for about two months now, although some countries are still seeing a rise in cases.

At what rate is coronavirus spreading?

Over the past four weeks, there has been an average 3% fall in the number of weekly new cases being reported, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
But the CDC warns that Africa is not out of the woods yet.
"I don't think we are over the first wave yet, we have not yet hit the bottom at all," says the CDC's John Nkengasong.
image copyrightReuters
image captionAfrica accounts about five per cent of all global cases and four per cent of deaths
And there are still some countries seeing rising case numbers.
The North Africa region recorded a 14% increase in cases over the past four weeks. Morocco has been experiencing an increase in new cases and had the highest number of new cases on the continent over the past week.
Libya and Tunisia were also among the five countries with the highest number of new cases over the week at number three and four.
The others countries reporting high number of new cases are South Africa which was second, and Ethiopia at position five.
There was a 56% increase in cases reported in Central Africa but Africa CDC's John Nkengasong says that could have been caused by batch testing, where testing results are held for some days then released at once. This contributes to spikes on days when the results are released.
All the other regions - Southern, Western and Eastern Africa - reported declines in cases on average over the past four weeks.
The global humanitarian relief body, the International Rescue Committee, says it believes the true scale of the pandemic may be hidden because of a lack of testing and issues with data.
And the WHO says changes in testing capacity and strategy can also affect numbers.
One example is Kenya where reported case numbers have been dropping for more than a month now, after the country changed its testing strategy to focus on higher-risk groups only.
Others like Ethiopia have boosted testing. There was a steady increase in case numbers since mid-June, but now new cases have been on a decline.
Ethiopia is currently the fourth on the continent in cumulative cases after South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.

Which countries have been most affected?

South Africa has the highest recorded number of total cases and reported deaths in Africa, and the eight highest number of cases in the world.
Daily reported numbers and hospital admissions have been falling for close on two months, but the number of deaths is not falling at the same rate.
This could be explained by the time lag between a patient being infected, and then becoming ill enough to eventually die.
But a change in testing policy in South Africa could also have had an effect on the numbers of new cases.
"The country's current policy of testing only those who present with symptoms makes full interpretation of case numbers difficult," the WHO says.
South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases says changes in access to testing could also have contributed to changes in the number of confirmed cases.
image copyrightReuters
image captionNew cases and hospital admissions have been falling in South Africa
And research from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) indicates the number of people who have died from the virus could be much higher than reported.
It says excess deaths, which is the difference between deaths over a particular period and the historical average, rose by 17,000 - that's a 59% increase compared with previous years.
Morocco has now overtaken Egypt and has the second highest number of cases, although Egypt is still the second in terms of deaths recorded so far.

mapped

Confirmed cases around the world

Group 4

Please upgrade your browser to see the full interactive

Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies

Figures last updated 18 September 2020, 10:57 BST

The reported death rate per capita has been low compared with other parts of the world, despite the poor health infrastructure in many African countries.

data in detail

Scroll table to see more data

*Deaths per 100,000 people

US 196,185 60.0 6,589,361
Brazil 134,106 64.0 4,419,083
India 83,198 6.2 5,118,253
Mexico 71,978 57.0 680,931
UK 41,684 62.1 378,219
Italy 35,645 58.8 291,442
France 30,999 47.7 395,104
Peru 30,927 96.7 738,020
Spain 30,243 64.8 614,360
Iran 23,632 28.9 410,334
Colombia 23,478 47.3 736,377
Russia 18,853 12.9 1,075,485
South Africa 15,705 27.2 653,444
Argentina 12,116 27.3 589,012
Chile 12,058 64.4 439,287
Ecuador 10,996 64.4 121,525
Belgium 9,935 86.5 95,948
Germany 9,373 11.3 266,869
Canada 9,244 24.9 141,852
Indonesia 9,100 3.4 228,993
Iraq 8,248 21.5 303,059
Bolivia 7,478 65.9 128,872
Turkey 7,249 8.8 296,391
Pakistan 6,399 3.0 303,634
Netherlands 6,261 36.7 86,348
Sweden 5,860 58.8 87,575
Egypt 5,696 5.8 101,500
Bangladesh 4,823 3.0 342,671
China 4,736 0.3 90,253
Philippines 4,732 4.4 272,934
Saudi Arabia 4,369 13.0 327,551
Romania 4,285 22.0 107,011
Ukraine 3,464 7.8 170,278
Guatemala 3,009 17.4 82,924
Poland 2,237 5.9 75,734
Panama 2,198 52.6 103,466
Honduras 2,102 21.9 69,660
Switzerland 2,039 23.9 48,265
Dominican Republic 2,009 18.9 105,521
Portugal 1,878 18.3 65,626
Ireland 1,788 37.1 31,799
Morocco 1,686 4.7 92,016
Kazakhstan 1,671 9.1 107,056
Algeria 1,645 3.9 48,966
Japan 1,481 1.2 77,009
Afghanistan 1,436 3.9 38,855
Israel 1,165 13.9 171,768
Moldova 1,159 28.6 44,361
Nigeria 1,091 0.6 56,604
Kyrgyzstan 1,063 16.9 45,153
Ethiopia 1,045 1.0 66,224
Armenia 923 31.3 46,376
Sudan 836 2.0 13,535
Australia 832 3.3 26,813
Oman 805 16.7 91,196
El Salvador 801 12.5 27,163
Belarus 767 8.1 74,763
Austria 758 8.5 35,073
Bulgaria 739 10.5 18,390
Serbia 736 10.5 32,613
Bosnia and Herzegovina 736 22.1 24,211
North Macedonia 668 32.1 16,088
Hungary 654 6.7 14,460
Costa Rica 649 13.0 59,516
Kenya 637 1.2 36,393
Denmark 633 11.0 20,571
Yemen 583 2.0 2,019
Kuwait 571 13.8 96,999
Azerbaijan 569 5.7 38,658
Paraguay 566 8.1 30,419
Venezuela 511 1.8 63,416
Kosovo 488 26.4 12,683
Czech Republic 482 4.5 41,032
Cameroon 415 1.6 20,303
Uzbekistan 411 1.3 49,385
United Arab Emirates 402 4.2 81,782
Libya 394 5.9 24,936
Nepal 379 1.3 58,327
South Korea 372 0.7 22,657
Albania 343 11.9 11,816
Finland 339 6.1 8,750
Zambia 326 1.9 13,887
Greece 316 3.0 14,041
Senegal 299 1.9 14,568
Ghana 294 1.0 45,655
DR Congo 267 0.3 10,414
Norway 265 5.0 12,498
Lebanon 259 3.8 26,083
Palestinian Territories 243 5.0 33,006
Croatia 236 5.7 14,029
Zimbabwe 224 1.6 7,598
Haiti 220 2.0 8,541
Bahrain 216 13.8 62,484
Madagascar 215 0.8 15,871
Qatar 208 7.5 122,449
Malawi 178 1.0 5,704
Syria 163 1.0 3,654
Mauritania 161 3.7 7,332
Nicaragua 147 2.3 4,961
Angola 143 0.5 3,675
Slovenia 135 6.5 3,954
Tunisia 129 1.1 8,100
Malaysia 128 0.4 10,031
Mali 128 0.7 2,966
Montenegro 126 20.1 7,291
Luxembourg 124 20.5 7,394
Ivory Coast 120 0.5 19,132
Cuba 109 1.0 4,876
Namibia 108 4.4 9,964
Gambia 107 4.7 3,440
Eswatini 101 8.9 5,155
Somalia 98 0.7 3,390
Suriname 95 16.5 4,645
Congo 88 1.7 4,934
Lithuania 87 3.1 3,442
Equatorial Guinea 83 6.3 5,000
Liberia 82 1.7 1,332
Chad 81 0.5 1,090
Tajikistan 73 0.8 9,171
Sierra Leone 72 0.9 2,133
Bahamas 69 17.9 3,087
Niger 69 0.3 1,182
French Guiana 65 23.0 9,595
Estonia 64 4.8 2,756
Guinea 63 0.5 10,154
Central African Republic 62 1.3 4,782
Djibouti 61 6.4 5,399
Uganda 60 0.1 5,266
Thailand 58 0.1 3,490
Trinidad and Tobago 58 4.2 3,327
Guyana 58 7.4 1,958
Burkina Faso 56 0.3 1,748
Gabon 53 2.5 8,678
Andorra 53 68.8 1,483
South Sudan 49 0.4 2,594
Channel Islands 48 28.2 639
Cape Verde 47 8.6 4,978
Jamaica 46 1.6 4,164
Myanmar 46 0.1 3,894
Uruguay 45 1.3 1,856
San Marino 42 124.3 723
Mayotte 40 15.4 3,374
Benin 40 0.3 2,280
Togo 40 0.5 1,608
Mozambique 39 0.1 5,994
Guinea-Bissau 39 2.1 2,275
Slovakia 38 0.7 5,860
Latvia 35 1.8 1,486
Vietnam 35 0.0 1,063
Maldives 33 6.4 9,427
Lesotho 33 1.6 1,327
Singapore 27 0.5 57,514
Jordan 26 0.3 3,852
Guadeloupe 26 6.5 3,426
New Zealand 25 0.5 1,809
Isle of Man 24 28.5 339
Rwanda 22 0.2 4,634
Aruba 22 20.8 3,328
Cyprus 22 1.8 1,548
Tanzania 21 0.0 509
Georgia 19 0.5 2,758
Belize 19 5.0 1,536
Saint Martin 19 51.0 557
Martinique 18 4.8 1,122
Malta 16 3.6 2,560
Réunion 15 1.7 3,002
Sao Tome and Principe 15 7.1 907
Sri Lanka 13 0.1 3,271
Diamond Princess cruise ship 13 712
Botswana 11 0.5 2,463
Iceland 10 3.0 2,189
Mauritius 10 0.8 365
Bermuda 9 14.3 178
Taiwan 7 0.0 500
Comoros 7 0.8 467
Barbados 7 2.4 185
Papua New Guinea 6 0.1 516
Turks and Caicos Islands 5 13.3 659
Brunei 3 0.7 145
Antigua and Barbuda 3 3.1 95
French Polynesia 2 0.7 1,099
Fiji 2 0.2 32
MS Zaandam cruise ship 2 9
Burundi 1 0.0 472
Cayman Islands 1 1.6 208
Curaçao 1 0.6 192
Monaco 1 2.6 181
Liechtenstein 1 2.6 111
British Virgin Islands 1 3.4 66
Montserrat 1 20.0 13
Western Sahara 1 0.2 10
Faroe Islands 0 0.0 428
Eritrea 0 0.0 364
Gibraltar 0 0.0 340
Mongolia 0 0.0 311
Cambodia 0 0.0 275
Bhutan 0 0.0 246
Seychelles 0 0.0 140
St Vincent and the Grenadines 0 0.0 64
Saint Lucia 0 0.0 27
Timor-Leste 0 0.0 27
New Caledonia 0 0.0 26
Grenada 0 0.0 24
Dominica 0 0.0 24
Saint Barthelemy 0 0.0 23
Laos 0 0.0 23
Saint Kitts and Nevis 0 0.0 17
Greenland 0 0.0 14
Falkland Islands 0 0.0 13
Vatican 0 0.0 12
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 0 0.0 11
Anguilla 0 0.0 3

Please update your browser to see full interactive

This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

** The past data for new cases is a three day rolling average. Due to revisions in the number of cases, an average cannot be calculated for this date.

Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies and UN population data

Figures last updated: 17 September 2020, 08:44 BST

The WHO says this could be partly because of the relatively young population in Africa - more than 60% under the age of 25.
Covid-19 is known to have a higher mortality rate for older age groups, and among people health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes which are also less common in Africa.
Experts also say expertise in epidemic control from tackling other outbreaks, cross-immunity from other coronaviruses, low travel and outdoor living could also be contributing to Africa coping better.
In terms of what proportion of people who get Covid-19 go on to die, there were 10 African countries with rates comparable with or higher than the global average rate of 3.1% on 23 September.

How much testing is done in Africa?

Ten countries account for close to 80% of the total tests conducted - South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius.
There are wide variations in testing rates, with South Africa doing the most and Nigeria doing relatively few per capita, according to Our World in Data, a UK-based project which collates Covid-19 information.
media captionSomalia has fewer than 100 official Covid-19 deaths - but its cemeteries tell a different story
By 20 September, South Africa had done 68 tests per 1,000 people, but that compares with 321 in the US on 20 September and the UK's 276 as at 21 September.
Nigeria had carried out just 2.4 tests per 1,000 people by 23 September, while Kenya had done nine by 13 September.
About half of the countries on the continent have a ratio lower than the benchmark of doing at least 10 tests for every positive case recommended by the Africa CDC.
And in some countries, there's insufficient data available on testing.

Related Topics