There are concerns that the continent will not be able to handle a surge in cases without the depth of medical facilities available in more developed economies.
Zimbabwe reported its first case on Friday, and a second on Saturday, while the island of Mauritius, with 14 cases, reported its first death, a person who had travelled from Belgium via Dubai.
Many African countries have already shut their borders, closed schools and universities and barred large public gatherings.
In South Africa, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa, more citizens have taken to wearing masks and gloves in public as the number of confirmed cases rose on Saturday to 240.
Rwanda, which has 17 confirmed cases, stepped up preventive measures on Saturday, banning travel between towns and other parts of the country for two weeks, closing all bars, and requiring all government and private employees to work from home.
Both Rwanda and Uganda on Saturday announced they would close their borders.
Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, plans to close its two main international airports in the cities of Lagos and Abuja from Monday night. The number of reported cases there rose to 22 on Saturday.
Nigeria also reported two cases of chloroquine poisoning after US President Donald Trump praised the anti-malaria drug as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.
Health officials are warning Nigerians against self-medicating after demand for the drug surged in Lagos, a city that’s home to 20 million people. Two people were hospitalised in Lagos for chloroquine overdoses, Oreoluwa Finnih, senior health assistant to the governor of Lagos, said in an interview.
“Please don’t panic,” she said via text message. “Chloroquine is still in a testing phase in combination with other medication and not yet verified as a preventive treatment or curative option.”
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Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control warned that the World Health Organisation hasn’t approved use of the drug against the virus. Africa’s most populous country reported 22 infections as of Saturday.
Trump said Thursday that chloroquine and its less-toxic cousin hydroxychloroquine had shown “tremendous promise” to treat the new illness.
The President doubled down on Saturday, telling his Twitter followers that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “taken together” could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.” He urged they “be put in use IMMEDIATELY.”
Trump also retweeted an online post about a small study of 26 patients that showed success in eradicating the new coronavirus when the two drugs were taken together. Some hospitals have already begun stockpiling hydroxychloroquine, and medical institutions are gearing up to conduct further studies. In the meantime, experts say using the drug and its cousin chloroquine to treat COVID-19 isn’t backed by enough scientific evidence.