By Bashir Adigun and Haruna Amar
The Associated Press
Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said April 18, while Nigeria said the president’s chief of staff had died.
A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the coronavirus, with the overall number of cases surpassing 20,000 on April 18.
Nigeria’s government said Abba Kyari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, died April 17 of COVID-19. “May God accept his soul,” the statement said.
A boy wearing a face mask carries a small bowl of “githeri”, or mixed beans and maize, for him to eat as he walks past an informational mural warning people about the risk of the new coronavirus, painted by graffiti artists from the Mathare Roots youth group, in the Mathare slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya on April 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
Kyari had been considered by some as Nigeria’s most powerful government figure, His infection had been one of the highest-profile in Africa. Several government ministers and a U.S. ambassador were infected with the virus earlier in Burkina Faso.
Kyari announced his illness last month, saying, “I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures.”
He was reported to have been infected during a visit to Germany. He was criticized for not isolating upon his return to Nigeria and accused of infecting other top government officials.
Nigeria currently has nearly 500 cases of the virus.
The World Health Organization on April 17 noted a 51 percent increase in cases in Africa and a 60 percent jump in deaths in the past week. But the WHO chief warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”
The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.
Umar reported from Maiduguri, Nigeria.