Published: 10:48, August 26, 2020 | Updated: 19:05, June 5, 2023
20 African countries shut borders completely to fight COVID-19
By Agencies

A lab technician works at the Eva Pharma facility in the Egyptian capital's twin city of Giza on July 12, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

MEXICO CITY / BERLIN / LONDON / BUENOS AIRES / RIO DE JANEIRO / BOGOTA / MOSCOW - The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Wednesday said that 20 African countries are under full border closure due to concerns related to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Africa.

The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, disclosed that some 20 African countries are still under "full border closure," as most African Union (AU) member countries have imposed mandatory quarantine for all travelers arriving from high risk areas.

As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent surpassed 1,202,918 as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 28,276, according to the latest figures from the Africa CDC.

On Tuesday, the Africa CDC said some 15 African countries have so far reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases amid a major spike of new cases across the continent. 

The southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by northern Africa and western Africa regions. 

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide on Wednesday surpassed 23.9 million while the global death toll topped 819,600, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.


The European Union (EU) is offering only partial protection to vaccine makers against legal risks from side-effects of their potential COVID-19 shots, European officials said, in a move that is hampering deals.

With vaccines being developed at record speed during the pandemic, there is potentially a greater risk they may have unexpected consequences or may not be effective. The financial coverage of these liabilities is a key feature of drugmakers' talks with governments keen to secure vaccine shots in advance.

EU officials involved in the confidential negotiations told Reuters that liability issues were among the stumbling blocks in talks with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer

In these extraordinary circumstances, EU governments "are ready to financially cover certain of the companies' risks", an EU official told Reuters. The official added, however, that the EU's strict rules on liability remain in place.

These rules consider vaccine makers and other manufacturers liable for their products on sale in the EU, apart from rare cases when, for instance, they did not put them into circulation.

EU officials involved in the confidential negotiations told Reuters in July that liability issues were among the stumbling blocks in talks with US drugmakers Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer, which is developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine with German biotech firm BioNtech.

A European Commission spokesman declined to comment on whether liability issues have been a hurdle in talks with vaccine makers.

ALSO READ: EU drugs agency: Coronavirus vaccine possible in early 2021

The supply agreement the EU reached earlier in August on the potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford - the only deal struck so far by Brussels - offers only partial liability coverage.

The industry trading body, Vaccines Europe, said it was working with relavant authorities to agree a system of compensation that would avoid "endless delays through prohibitively expensive litigation with uncertain outcomes".

The EU stance on liabilities could partly explain why, despite having a bigger population than the United States, it is lagging Washington in securing potential COVID-19 vaccines.

The US system shifts liability for vaccines fully to the government and shields drugmakers because widespread inoculation against disease is considered a benefit to society.

A woman who tested positive for the new coronavirus but is asymptomatic disembarks from a government bus to be admitted to a former student residence that is now being used as a place to quarantine patients in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 25, 2020. (ARIANA CUBILLOS / AP)


Young people are driving the spread of the coronavirus in the Americas, the head of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Tuesday, noting that both deaths and caseloads have doubled in the region over the past six weeks.

Briefing reporters on a webcast, Dr. Carissa Etienne chastised governments that have rushed economic re-openings despite data that shows a worsening pandemic.

The head of PAHO said that “the vast majority” of reported COVID-19 cases in the Americas have been among those between the ages of 19 and 59

Since July, coronavirus cases in the Americas have more than doubled to about 12 million confirmed infections, while deaths have shot up by roughly the same rate to some 450,000, according to PAHO data.

ALSO READ: WHO: COVID-19 cases in Americas surpass 10 million

Etienne said that “the vast majority” of reported COVID-19 cases in the Americas have been among those between the ages of 19 and 59, but that almost 70 percent of deaths have been among individuals who are 60 years old or older.

“This indicates that younger people are primarily driving the spread of the disease in our region,” she said.

A recent uptick in cases in several Caribbean nations, including The Bahamas, is also a growing concern, said Etienne, with new infections not only driven by tourism but also returning residents.

Overall, governments should base their re-opening decisions on the best available data and expand testing and contract tracing programs to better identify and control spikes in cases, she said.

Six of the world’s 10 most affected countries are in the Americans, said Etienne, pointing to the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina.

The PAHO is the Washington-based Americas arm of the UN World Health Organization.

READ MORE: WHO: Virus slowing save in SE Asia, eastern Mediterranean


Argentina reported 8,771 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases for a national total of 359,638, according to the government, the second straight record daily tally. The government reported 162 deaths, pushing the death toll to 7,563.


Belarus reported 247 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking its total to 70,974, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 281 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 69,378, the ministry added.


Brazilian Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the eldest son of President Jair Bolsonaro, said on Tuesday he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The senator said via Twitter that he was fine, had no symptoms, and was being treated at home with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

Flavio is the fourth member of the president's family to be infected by the coronavirus.

Brazil registered an additional 1,271 COVID-19 deaths and 47,134 new cases over the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 116,580 and the tally to 3,669,995, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Brazilian labor prosecutors have sued JBS SA to compel the removal of workers at one of its chicken processing plants, asking the company to assess their health, and ultimately test them for the virus, according to a statement on Tuesday.

The request comes as JBS's Montenegro plant in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul reported 36 confirmed cases. There are another 301 suspected cases at that facility, where one worker has died from COVID-19 complications, the labor prosecutors said.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a C$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) package Wednesday to safely reopen schools, the Globe and Mail reported, citing unidentified federal officials.

The funds would be in addition to the C$19b Safe Restart Agreement package, which is aimed at helping provinces mitigate the pandemic’s impact on their economies and health-care systems.

Canada has so far reported 127,9030 confirmed cases and 9,136 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Chile's tally of COVID-19 infections reached 400,985 on Tuesday, after tests detected 1,406 new cases in the past 24 hours.

In the same 24-hour period, 42 more patients died of the disease, taking the death toll to 10,958, according to data provided by the Health Ministry.

So far, 15,564 patients are in the active stage of the virus while the number of recoveries stood at 374,463.

People wearing face masks walk on a street in downtown Santiago, Chile, Aug 25, 2020. (JORGE VILLEGAS / XINHUA)


Colombia is in discussions to join other phase three clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, the health minister said on Tuesday, and will not reverse an end to its national quarantine.

The government said on Monday that Colombia, which has nearly 552,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and is finishing more than five months of lockdown at the end of August, would participate in trials with Johnson & Johnson.

The price per vaccine dose is still uncertain, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said, but Colombia is estimating a cost of US$20 and investment of some 1.5 trillion pesos (US$390 million) to initially vaccinate health workers and other high-risk people.

Colombia has spent around US$3 billion on its healthcare system amid the pandemic, Ruiz said, and will soon double its number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds from 5,600.

He said the quarantine had delayed the peak of the pandemic, which otherwise could have infected 250,000 people a day and collapsed the healthcare system.

"I don't think selective isolation measures will be reversed. We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we're passing the hardest period," Ruiz said.

Czech Republic

Eleven members of the Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies (lower house of the parliament) are in quarantine after coming into contact with Member of Parliament (MP) and former Defense Minister Karla Slechtova, who had tested positive for COVID-19, local media reported on Tuesday.

"Some people who were in the immediate vicinity of Slechtova have a negative test. The deputy wore a veil the whole time and it probably worked," Czech TV quoted Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondracek as saying.

The premises of the Chamber of Deputies are now being sanitized, according to the Prague regional hygiene station.

The Czech Republic has so far reported 22,548 confirmed cases and 416 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Dominican Republic

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Dominican Republic reached 92,217 on Tuesday, after tests detected 609 new cases in the past 24 hours, Dominican authorities said.

The death toll rose to 1,585 after 12 more patients died of the disease in the same 24-hour period.

Currently, 7,328 patients are being treated in hospital isolation wards and 20,844 people who recently tested positive have self-isolated at home.

The number of recovered patients rose from 61,558 to 62,460.  


Ecuador on Tuesday reported 741 new cases of COVID-19 and 46 more deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the total caseload to 109,030 and the death toll to 6,368.

The country's overall death toll from COVID-19 could be higher, because another 3,696 deaths are suspected of having been caused by the coronavirus, but have not been verified, the Ministry of Public Health said.  


Egypt reported on Tuesday 141 new infections and 18 deaths of COVID-19, bringing its infection tally to 97,619, including 5,298 deaths, said the Health Ministry.

Another 900 patients had recovered and were discharged from hospitals, raising total recoveries to 67,717, representing over 69 percent of the total cases, according to the ministry.


France will not let its guard down against a still-virulent coronavirus but life must return to some kind of normality, the prime minister said on Wednesday, as a senior adviser to the government warned of a second wave in November.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said his government wanted to ensure the French could return to school, get back to work and enjoy a social life “as normally as possible”.

Castex also said on Wednesday that the French government will unveil an economic recovery plan on Sept 3, as it looks to revive activity in the wake of the pandemic.

Measures under the 100 billion-euro (US$118 billion) plan will include 2 billion euros for the cultural sector, Castex said in an interview on France Inter radio. 

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the French government on the pandemic, warned that a second wave of COVID-19 could hit France in November

Separately on Wednesday, a government advisor told media that a second wave of the pandemic could hit France in November, as the city of Marseille tightened restrictions to fight the outbreak.

Authorities in Marseille said late on Tuesday that bars and restaurants would have to close from between 11 pm and 6 am local time (2100-0400 GMT), and they also broadened mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces in all districts of the city between Aug 26 and Sept 30.

ALSO READ: Some tourists confused by new COVID-19 mask rules in Paris

"There are fears of a second wave in November," Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the pandemic, told France 2 television on Wednesday.

France reported 3,304 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. Tuesday’s number was well below the 4,897 recorded two days ago, the peak for this month and a four-month high. Fatalities rose by 22 in the past 24 hours to a total of 30,544, according to a health ministry statement.

While officials tighten local restrictions, President Emmanuel Macron is reluctant to resort to the sweeping measures imposed during the initial peak of the pandemic in March and April.  

“To overcome the health crisis, we must learn to live with the virus,” the French president tweeted earlier on Tuesday. “If we show unity and a sense of responsibility, we will succeed.”

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford, a volunteer participates in the vaccine trial in Oxford, England on July 7, 2020. (PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD VIA AP)


Georgia confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking its tally to 1,436.

Four of the seven new cases were imported, the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health said.

It added that 1,150 people had recovered while 19 had died.

According to Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia on Wednesday, due to the improving situation, schools and cinemas will open from Sept 15 and kindergartens from Oct 1. 


Germany wants to intensify its monitoring of returning travellers to make sure they are abiding by quarantine rules, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday, after data showed more than 40 percent of new infections were contracted overseas.

In the mean times, the country also plans to scrap mandatory free coronavirus tests for returning travellers it introduced early this month to stop a rise in new cases, its health minister said on Wednesday, citing capacity constraints at laboratories.

Separately, Germany's foreign ministry is extending its travel warning for countries outside Europe until Sept 14 due to continued concern about the coronavirus, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.  The warning had been due to expire at the end of August.

Germany's confirmed cases increased by 1,576 to 236,429, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by three to 9,280.

Meanwhile, German coalition parties agreed on Tuesday to extend measures to cushion the effects of the coronavirus crisis on Europe's biggest economy.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, told public broadcaster ZDF the measures could cost up to 10 billion euros next year.

Among the main decisions were an extension of short-time work subsidies, which had been due to expire in March 2021, until the end of next year and prolonging bridging aid for small and mid-sized companies until the end of this year.

The parties also agreed to prolong measures aimed at staving off bankruptcies by allowing firms in financial trouble due to the pandemic to delay filing for insolvency until the end of the year.


Hungary reported 73 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, the biggest daily increase since May 2, bringing the total so far to 5,288. The country’s death toll remained at 614, with 64 people currently in hospital, according to official figures.

Hungary will reopen schools next week for the first time since mid-March based on fresh data on coronavirus infections, state news agency MTI reported on Tuesday, citing Minister of Human Capacities Miklos Kasler.

Kasler said the government had worked out a protocol for schools to follow about social distancing, using sanitizers, and the use of common areas. He did not go into detail and did not say if wearing a mask would be mandatory.

Hungary has reported 5,215 cases of the coronavirus in all, and 614 deaths. On Tuesday, 24 new cases were recorded.

The government is expected to announce new rules on border crossing this week.

Medical workers wearing protective gear take swab samples to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through for people returning from Croatia, Spain, Malta and Greece, at the San Carlo hospital, in Milan, Italy, Aug 25, 2020. (LUCA BRUNO / AP)


Italy has ruled out imposing a new nationwide lockdown despite an increase in coronavirus cases, as the country struggles to emerge from the worst recession in living memory.

The rise in contagion has been limited, with very low impact on health services, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We have few cases and the situation is under control, with pressure on hospitals that is very low, minimal,” he said. The average age of people who’ve tested positive in the last week is 30, and most have mild symptoms or none at all, he said.

Italy reported 878 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the lowest in five days. 

It was the second straight decline after a surge in infections linked to returning tourists. 

Four people died from coronavirus Tuesday, and one new person was put in intensive care. 

In total, Italy has so far reported 261,174 confirmed cases and 35,445 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Kenya’s president extended a nationwide curfew for 30 days on Wednesday, saying coronavirus cases were rising in areas outside the capital.

In a televised address, Uhuru Kenyatta also ordered bars and nightclubs shut for another 30 days - but increased the number of people allowed to attend weddings, funerals and other events.


The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Tuesday reported 272 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 11,281.

The center said in a statement that 16 more patients had recovered, taking total recoveries to 1,112, while the death toll rose to 203 with addition of four more fatalities.


Mexico's Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 4,916 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 650 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 568,621 cases and 61,450 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.


Morocco registered 1,276 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the total number in the North African country to 54,528, the Health Ministry said.

Deaths rose by 35 to 955 while recoveries increased by 815 to 38,293, said Mouad Mrabet, coordinator of the Moroccan Center for Public Health Operations at the ministry, during a press briefing.


Russia reported 4,676 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing its confirmed national tally up to 970,865.

Authorities said 115 people had died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 16,683.


Rwanda has reinforced efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in response to a recent spike in infections, Rwandan State Minister in charge of Primary Healthcare Tharcisse Mpunga told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The Rwandan Health Ministry reported 231 new cases Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 3,537 cases, with 1,806 recoveries and 15 deaths.

The central African nation has been seeing a spike in cases from Aug 14 and efforts have been made to reinforce measures to contain the spread, said Mpunga in a written interview. The measures include strengthening epidemiological interventions, such as enhancing laboratory testing capacity, he said.

Some biggest markets where cases were identified were closed for disinfection and containment of the virus, and mass testing in markets and on streets had been organized to ascertain the prevalence of the pandemic in Kigali, he said..

At least hundreds of cases have been reported from mass testing in Kigali markets, since two of Kigali major markets were closed from Aug 17 due to a spike in new infections in the city, especially in the two markets. 


Spain's cumulative tally of coronavirus cases - the highest in Western Europe - hit 412,553 on Tuesday, but new infections, at 2,415 in the past 24 hours, appeared to have ebbed after a surge last week when over 7,000 cases were registered for four days in a row, Health Ministry figures show.

Another 10 fatalities were logged, raising the death toll to 28,924.

READ MORE: Spain ready to send in troops to tackle coronavirus resurgence


The Tunisian scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus approved on Tuesday the health protocol for the start of the new school year slated for Sept 15, reported Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP).

"The protocol provides for the application of physical distancing between pupils and also requires the wearing of masks for teachers and educational staff only," TAP quoted Habib Guedira as saying, member of the scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus.

The approval came as a health official said that Tunisia is experiencing rapid spread of the coronavirus.

The total number of confirmed cases in Tunisia surged to 3,069, the Ministry of Health said in a statement. So far, a total of 1,456 patients had recovered while 71 people had died.


English children over the ages of 11 will now be required to wear face masks in schools in high-risk areas, the latest U-turn by the UK government over its coronavirus policy.

From Sept 1, staff and pupils in secondary schools in areas under possible local lockdowns must wear masks when moving around the building and in communal areas, but not in classrooms. In less risky areas, face masks will not be obligatory but schools will have the discretion to make it a requirement.

From Sept 1, staff and pupils in UK's secondary schools in areas under possible local lockdowns must wear masks when moving around the building and in communal areas, but not in classrooms

The move comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he was "really pleased" by the work done to prepare schools for reopening next week.

Meanwhile on vaccines, the University of Cambridge is aiming to start clinical trials of its possible coronavirus vaccine in the autumn after it received 1.9 million pounds (US$2.5 million) in funding from the British government, the university said on Wednesday.

The government has invested 1.9 million pounds (US$2.5 million) to develop the shot, with the researchers planning to begin phase I trials in the autumn, the university said in a statement Wednesday. The team aims to use genetic sequences of other known coronaviruses to create one vaccine that goes beyond COVID-19 to fight related diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

The UK recorded 1,184 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest daily statistics published on Tuesday, up from 853 on Monday and pushing the official tally to 327,798, government figures showed. Sixteen people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within the previous 28 days.


Ukraine on Wednesday imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until Sept. 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

Speaking at a televised cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal also said the government would need to take a decision on Thursday on whether to ban major public events in September.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who helped lead the 2004 Orange Revolution, has been moved to intensive care after contracting the coronavirus. News that she had fallen ill came Sunday, with Tymoshenko’s health worsening Monday evening and prompting the transfer, according to her spokeswoman, Maryna Soroka.

“Unfortunately we don’t have good news at the moment,” Soroka said Tuesday on Facebook. Tymoshenko, 59, remains in “serious condition.”

Ukraine has so far reported 112,616 confirmed cases and 2,397 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Coronavirus cases in the US increased 0.6 percent compared with the same time Monday, to 5.76 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. Deaths rose by 0.4 percent to 177,773.

California and Florida reported positive trends, adding to signs that an infection spike in Sun Belt states is easing. 

Meanwhile, more US colleges were grappling with high numbers of students testing positive for the coronavirus just days into the start of the fall semester after some universities rolled back their campus reopening plans in recent weeks.

READ MORE: US university, college towns face dual threat

The University of Alabama on Monday reported more than 550 people across its campuses had been infected since it resumed in-person classes on Aug 19. Most of those infected were students, faculty and staff at the university’s main campus in Tuscaloosa.

Citing a “dramatic increase” in coronavirus cases on campus, the mayor of Tuscaloosa issued an executive order on Monday ordering bars to shut down for 14 days and placing restrictions on other establishments.

Alabama is not alone in scrambling to deal with COVID-19 college outbreaks.

The University of Southern California (USC) on Monday said that more than 100 students at the University Park Campus in Los Angeles were in a 14-day quarantine after exposure to the virus.

Ohio State University this week issued more than 200 interim suspensions for students following a string of large parties where health and safety rules were largely ignored, according to media reports.