WHO says Africa may be the next epicentre of the coronavirus

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Africa could become the next epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

There was a sharp rise in cases in the past week.

There have been almost 1,000 deaths and almost 19,000 infections across Africa so far, although these rates are far lower than those seen in parts of Europe and the US.

The WHO says the virus appears to be spreading away from African capitals.

It has also highlighted that the continent does not have enough ventilators to deal with a pandemic.

Of the 19,000 confirmed cases in Africa and at least 970 confirmed deaths across the whole continent, which has a population of about 1.3 billion, North Africa is the worst affected region. Algeria, Egypt and Morocco have all had more than 2,000 cases and at least 100 deaths. Algeria has had the most deaths, with 348.

Elsewhere, South Africa has also had more than 2,000 cases, with 48 deaths, while the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, has had 442 cases and 13 confirmed deaths out of a population of some 200 million.

WHO Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti told BBC Global Health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar that international travel played a part.

“If you look at the proportion of people who travel, Africa has fewer people who are traveling internationally,” she said.

But now that the virus is in within Africa, she says that her organisation is acting under the assumption that it will spread just as quickly as elsewhere.

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