Within days of his inauguration in June, Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s president, ended months of official denial about the coronavirus by ordering mass testing in the commercial capital of Bujumbura. Well he might. His predecessor, Pierre Nkurunziza, who had scoffed at the virus and entrusted Burundi’s protection to God, paid a heavy price for his nonchalance. He died, almost certainly of Covid-19 itself.

After months in which Africa escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic as the global centre shifted from Asia to Europe and then to the Americas, the number of African infections — and deaths — has begun to increase sharply. At least 14,500 people have now died out of 667,000 confirmed infections. That has raised concern among some experts that the world’s poorest continent may be about to enter a critical phase of the coronavirus outbreak.

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