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EXPLAINER: What Africa, approaching a million cases, is doing to fight COVID-19

The World Health Organization has warned the coronavirus pandemic could overwhelm strained public health systems in Africa. On 5 August, the continent was approaching a million infections and around 21,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. Here are measures some countries are taking to curb the virus.

SOUTH AFRICA

With more cases than any other country on the continent, South Africa imposed a strict lockdown on 27 March, closing borders and requiring most people to stay at home except for essential trips. The government also banned the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

The government in May allowed the re-opening of many sectors to try to revive the economy. The move was followed by a sharp increase in confirmed cases, with infections rising at one of the fastest rates in the world

A mine employee measures the temperature of a mine worker, en route to his evening shift at the Sibanye-Stillwater platinum mine, before letting him board a company bus at the Wonderkop taxi rank in Marikana, near Rustenburg, on 15 May 2020. Picture: AFP.

A mine employee measures the temperature of a mine worker, en route to his evening shift at the Sibanye-Stillwater platinum mine, before letting him board a company bus at the Wonderkop taxi rank in Marikana, near Rustenburg, on 15 May 2020. Picture: AFP.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in July re-imposed a curfew and a ban on alcohol sales, both of which are still in effect. He also announced that public schools would again close, this time for four weeks. Classes are due to resume on 24 August.

NIGERIA

Africa’s most populous country imposed lockdowns lasting around five weeks in its main cities, Lagos and Abuja, before easing restrictions in early May. A lockdown lasting a few weeks was later imposed in the northern commercial hub of Kano state after a suspected outbreak.

A patient suspected of suffering from COVID-19 undergoes testing at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital isolation centre in Nigeria on May 2020. Picture: AFP.

A patient suspected of suffering from COVID-19 undergoes testing at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital isolation centre in Nigeria on May 2020. Picture: AFP.

In July, a ban on interstate travel was lifted and domestic flights resumed. A date has yet to be announced for the resumption of international flights. Schools were shut in March but were set to reopen for students sitting graduation exams from 4 August. The wearing of masks in public is mandatory.

RWANDA

It is mandatory to wear a mask in the East African country. Those who fail to do so face arrest.

People stand in white circles drawn on the ground to adhere to social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as they wait for a bus at Nyabugogo bus station in Kigali, Rwanda, on 4 May 2020, the first day back from the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Picture: AFP

People stand in white circles drawn on the ground to adhere to social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as they wait for a bus at Nyabugogo bus station in Kigali, Rwanda, on 4 May 2020, the first day back from the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Picture: AFP

People must wash their hands at bus stops and in restaurants, banks and shops. Schools, universities and bars are closed nationwide.

Only cargo flights have been permitted since March, but commercial flights were set to resume on 1 August.

TANZANIA

Tanzania confirmed its first COVID-19 case on 16 March, but has not publicly updated its coronavirus numbers since 8 May.

The government eased restrictions in May due to what it said was a reduction in cases. It opened schools and colleges and allowed sporting events and gatherings, despite doctors and diplomats saying the outbreak was far from contained.

Students of Al-Haramain secondary school attend a class on their first day of re-opened school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 1 June 2020. Picture: AFP

Students of Al-Haramain secondary school attend a class on their first day of re-opened school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 1 June 2020. Picture: AFP

Authorities enforce social distancing while also encouraging people to wash their hands and wear masks at public gatherings.

BURKINA FASO

Burkina Faso imposed restrictions after recording its first cases on 9 March. But Islamist militants and local militias operate across vast swathes of the country, making it hard for authorities to enforce curbs and assess the spread of the virus.

Traders open their shops in Rood Woko’s great market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 20 April 2020, after the market was closed since 25 March 2020, as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Picture: AFP

Traders open their shops in Rood Woko’s great market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 20 April 2020, after the market was closed since 25 March 2020, as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Picture: AFP

The government lifted the restrictions in April, a few weeks after they were introduced, allowing markets, schools and businesses to resume.

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia did not ban international passenger flights. Arriving passengers are quarantined unless they produce a negative COVID-19 test certificate no more than five days old.

A picture taken on 3 August 2020 shows a view of the makeshift hospital where patients infected by COVID-19 are treated inside Millenium Hall, one of Ethiopia's largest event centres, in Addis Ababa. Picture: AFP

A picture taken on 3 August 2020 shows a view of the makeshift hospital where patients infected by COVID-19 are treated inside Millenium Hall, one of Ethiopia's largest event centres, in Addis Ababa. Picture: AFP

The government has closed schools nationwide. It has ordered buses, trains, taxis and private cars to carry fewer passengers. It is mandatory to wear masks in public.

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and increased joint military and police checkpoints.

A medical staff member wearing protective equipment places a face mask on a mock patient at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare on 11 March 2020. Picture: AFP

A medical staff member wearing protective equipment places a face mask on a mock patient at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare on 11 March 2020. Picture: AFP

Business hours are restricted to 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. apart from essential services. The government shut most informal markets, banned inter-city travel and grounded taxis. The state bus company is the only authorised form of public transport.

Schools have remained shut since March.