The coronavirus pandemic in Africa is “accelerating”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

While it took 98 days for the continent to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases, it took just 18 days to get to 200,000.

WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said that community transmission has begun in more than half of Africa’s 54 countries and “this is a serious sign”.

The virus largely arrived on the continent via travellers from Europe and is spreading beyond capital cities and commercial hubs into more rural areas where many health systems are unequipped to handle cases that require intensive care.

Ms Moeti pointed out South Africa, where the virus has spread from Western Cape province centred on Cape Town into the more rural Eastern Cape. South Africa has the continent’s highest number of cases with more than 55,000.

She said: “I’m afraid we probably will have to live with a steady increase” of cases in Africa until an effective vaccine is found.

Africa has more than 209,000 cases, still a small fraction – less than 3% – of the global total.

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