Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy, African leaders have taken steps in stabilizing the economy by easing partial lockdowns. However, this has come with a number consequences, as African countries have since witnessed a surge in the number of infections.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall announced the easing of the restrictions on Monday May 11, one day after Senegal registered a more than 30 percent jump in cases, making it the largest one-day increase in cases. So far, Senegal has reported 1,886 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths.
President Sall said along with relaxing the state of emergency measures on Tuesday, curfew hours will be from 9pm to 5am, instead of 8pm to 6am and people were allowed to attend places of worship. Markets and other businesses previously restricted to opening on certain days will be now open six days and closed one day for cleaning.
Since the lockdown was relaxed, the figures have climbed up for Nigeria. As of today, the country has recorded 4,787 confirmed cases, and 158 deaths.
Ghana, also had made a lift of the lockdown with President Nana Akufo-Addo citing severe difficulties especially for the poor and vulnerable as a major reason. As a result of this decision, the country has witnessed a significant surge in the number of cases being recorded.
As at April 10 when the government announced the lifting of the lockdown, Ghana had 1,042 cases, ten days later, the country recorded even more cases. The country currently has a total number of 5,127 cases.
Also, South Africa began the partial easing of the lockdown in its agriculture sector while allowing some manufacturing and retail businesses to resume.
President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that the lockdown had massively affected the country’s economy. The country has recorded a rise to 11,350 cases from 3,953 between April 24 and May 13, following the easing of the lockdown.
Similarly, Egypt has witnessed a significant increase in cases since easing the lockdown due to Ramadan. Egypt went from 3,891 cases to 10,093 cases. The country’s urban price inflation rate increased from 5.9 percent in April from 5.1 percent in March. This is a rate higher than analysts expected on the back of rising food prices.
Following the easing of restrictions, Algeria has now become the fourth worse hit country by the virus in Africa. Within one week of lifting the total lockdown, Algeria rose to 4,295 cases from 3,007 cases.
In contrast, Lesotho, the only African country yet to record any case of COVID-19 remains on lockdown.
Overall, the rise in figures after the lockdown, has generated mixed reactions. Some experts have attributed the easing of the lockdown to an increase in COVID-19 cases while others disagree. Those who disagreed believe the virus was being transmitted in communities while the restriction lasted.
The World Health Organization has said that Africa could experience an increase in cases if the government continues to lift or relax lockdown measures.
With the surge in COVID-19 cases, African countries are on the brick of witnessing a second wave of the lockdown which could take a stricter approach.