On Sunday, March 8, a 60-year-old German tourist who’d arrived in Egypt a week earlier passed away at a hospital in the Red Sea resort Hurghada, the first fatality from the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa. The patient, who had tested positive for the virus on Friday but refused to be moved to a specialized quarantine hospital, was admitted to intensive care after suffering from respiratory failure due to pneumonia. News of the tourist’s death came around the same time that Egypt confirmed forty-five new cases of infection after a cruise ship docked in the southern city of Luxor, bringing Egypt’s total number of confirmed cases to forty-eight.
Neighboring Algeria also saw a sudden uptick in cases after nine new cases were discovered within a single family. A few new cases were also recorded in Togo, Cameroon, and South Africa, and Nigeria confirmed a second case linked to its first patient.
Why It Matters
Thus far, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has remained low. This despite China—where the virus first emerged—being the continent’s top trading partner, and North Africa having close ties with Europe—which has seen in spike in case—through trade, tourism, and migration. Experts attribute this to successful proactive measures undertaken by sub-Saharan African governments, drawing on lessons learned from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.