Twelve countries in Africa are now experiencing community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), says the World Health Organisation.
But it does not reveal the names of the countries.
WHO African Region, in a statement on Thursday, says more than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of March 19, compared with 147 cases a week ago.
It emphasises that it is crucial that governments prevent local transmission from evolving into a worst-case scenario of widespread as such a scenario will present a major challenge to countries with weak health systems.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, says, “The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action.
“But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.
“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts.
“COVID-19 is one of the biggest health challenges Africa has faced in a generation. We can only stop this virus through solidarity. And the world is coming together. Donors are stepping up to the plate and providing funding while private sector in many countries is offering their support as well.”