An official takes a driver's temperature near Abuja, Nigeria. Picture: KOLA SULAIMON/AFP
An official takes a driver's temperature near Abuja, Nigeria. Picture: KOLA SULAIMON/AFP

Gaborone  — Three African states reported their first deaths from the Covid-19 virus on Tuesday, as the continent takes unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Botswana's Vice-President Slumber Tsogwane said the country's first death was a 79-year-old woman who had arrived from SA on March  15 and died on March 25th. 

Tanzania's government said a 49-year-old man with underlying health issues had died, while Mauritania's victim was a 48-year-old French-Mauritanian dual national, according to the Mauritanian Information Agency.

Earlier SA reported that five people had now died and the number of Covid-19 cases in SA has risen to 1,353. Health minister Zweli Mkhize said of the confirmed cases 633 are in Gauteng.

Elsewhere in Africa, Ethiopia postponed general elections that were scheduled for the end of August because of the coronavirus outbreak. The East African nation has 26 confirmed cases of the virus.

In Burundi, the health ministry government confirmed its first coronavirus cases. Both men were Burundian. One, 56, had recently returned from neighbouring Rwanda and the other, 42, had recently returned from Dubai, the statement posted on Twitter said.

Sierra Leone confirmed its first case on Tuesday. In a televised press conference, President Julius Maada Bio said that a 37-year-old man who arrived in the country from France on March 16 had tested positive.

In Nigeria, Lagos appeared deserted on Tuesday after the city was locked down along with Abuja. Businesses were closed, markets abandoned and streets empty on the first full day of a two-week shutdown. Nigeria embarked late Monday on one of Africa's most ambitious efforts at social distancing after recording 135 confirmed cases and two deaths.

Ghana's finance ministry  slashed its 2020 GDP growth forecast from 6.8% to 1.5% due to the coronavirus pandemic. It would be the country's worst performance in nearly four decades. In recent years the oil, gold and cocoa-producer has had one of the top ten fastest-growing economies in Africa.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the new growth forecast of 1.5% could be further lowered if the country goes into full lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far infected 152 in Ghana and killed five.

“Never before, in the history of the Fourth Republic, has the entire Ghanaian economy and society experienced such (a) severe external shock,” Ofori-Atta told MPs late on Monday.

AFP, Bloomberg