JOHANNESBURG: The UN health agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million. Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the coronavirus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million, according to an AFP tally.
South Africa is the hardest hit country in Africa, accounting for more than half of diagnosed infections, although President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fatality rate is lower than the global average. Health authorities had been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed at the end of March.
Nigeria on Saturday also announced it would ease a lockdown in the commercial capital Lagos, allowing
churches and mosques to reopen next week. An emergency WHO committee reviewing the pandemic “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this Covid-19 outbreak, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts”.
“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of Covid-19 to be very high,” it said in its latest statement. The agency also said: “the effects of the pandemic will be felt for decades to come”. Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest hit country in virus deaths — after Brazil and the United States — with more than 46,600 fatal cases.