News digest: Covid-19


Covid outbreak at Chinese port exacerbates global supply chain delays

Weeks of disruption at one of the world’s largest container terminals in southern China have put a huge strain on the already-stretched global shipping industry, worsening supply chain delays around the world. Yantian terminal in Shenzhen closed for almost a week in late May after port workers tested positive for Covid-19. Weeks later, productivity has only recovered to about 70% of normal levels. The situation exposes the vulnerability of global shipping to future delays if even relatively minor outbreaks occur in Chinese port cities. Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, said that the trend is “worrying”, and that “unceasing congestion is becoming a global problem”.

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal, 23 June 2021


Updates from the AU

For regular updates on Covid-19 statistics by region and country, see the African Union and Africa CDC Covid-19 website at

Virus infections surging in Africa’s vulnerable rural areas

The delta variant of Covid-19 has now been detected in at least 14 African countries, including Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe – and not just in the cities. In Zimbabwe, three of the four districts under strict lockdown and declared as epicentres of the outbreak are in the predominantly rural Mashonaland West province. Other hot spots also are largely rural, a first for this country. Africa has recorded over 5.3 million cases and is experiencing the worst of a wave driven by more contagious and deadlier variants. The continent recorded a 39% increase in new cases in the week from June 14-20, according to the World Health Organization. With homesteads spaced far apart, few visitors and rare public gatherings, rural areas appeared so insulated that they drew some people from cities to escape both infection and economic hardship. Dr Johannes Marisa, president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association, said “We are going to see a lot of deaths, especially arising from rural areas. Covid-19 is now coming from the rural areas.” He attributes the spike to “a high degree of complacency,” a lack of information and few vaccinations, and the prioritisation of urban areas.

Source: Associated Press, 30 June 2021

Africa: Covid-19 spreading

Africa is in the midst of a third wave of Covid-19 epidemics. The World Health Organization is concerned because five countries account for three-quarters of new cases (South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, Uganda and Namibia), while the variants are multiplying and have so far affected 25 countries. Vaccination is progressing on the African continent and some countries are achieving good results (South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Madagascar). However, vaccination is stagnating in other countries and the WHO is calling for accelerated vaccination and screening campaigns to interrupt the chain of infection. WHO has provided 90 million rapid antigen tests to 39 African states.

Source: RFI, 18 June 2021

Kenya: Impacts of lockdown on horticulture

Kenya’s agricultural industry suffered an average loss of $3 million (about Sh323.4 million) a day during lockdowns in 2020, according to a study by COLEACP. At least 45% of farmers reported a drop in earnings, with unavailability of agricultural input materials and uncertainty about the markets for produce reducing production. Research firm 60 Decibels reports that 71% of farmers paid a higher price for inputs between June and October 2020. The cost of leasing land also increased by 27%. “All value chains were badly affected. Horticulture is where we saw many companies closing shop. However every other sector was affected as no products were moving as the pandemic hit the north where our goods are sold,” said Chris Alouch, Fairtrade Africa Network programme director.

Source: The Star (Kenya), 16 June 2021

Kenya: Estimated loss of US$3 million per day due to Covid-19 restrictions

The daily cost of Covid-19 restrictions to the Kenyan agricultural sector has been estimated at US$3 million per day. At least 45% of farmers reported a drop in income during these periods, due to unavailability of inputs and market uncertainties. The horticultural sector was the most affected due to losses related to the closure of international markets. The livestock sector, particularly the poultry sector, continues to be affected by declines in business from restaurants, clubs and hotels.

Source: La veille agricole, 21 June 2021

Uganda: New restriction measures

The authorities will put in place new restrictions to contain a significant increase in the number of cases of infection in recent weeks. Schools will be closed for 42 days, inter-district travel will be prohibited, as will public and cultural gatherings and places of worship.

Source: RFI, 7 June 2021

Uganda: Covid delta strain takes toll

On 18 June, President Museveni instituted a 42-day lockdown, which banned public transport, schools, public gatherings and non-essential activities. Sources at the Covid-19 National taskforce said that restrictions will only be lifted if death rate goes down, recovery rate up, new infections reduce, compliance levels in observing health protocols improve, and when at least 4 million people will have been vaccinated in Kampala. Health authorities say that the rate at which the virus is spreading at the community level is difficult to contain, even with the current lockdown. Although Kampala and Wakiso are the epicentres, the Health ministry has reported cases across the country, with rural areas that were not affected by the first wave now registering cases and deaths.

Source: The East African, 28 June 2021

Cameroon: Further stabilisation of the Covid-19 epidemic

According to the health authorities the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 in Cameroon is stabilising. The respect of barrier measures must still be observed. Nearly 45,000 people have already been vaccinated since 12 April, the date of the start of the vaccination campaign.

Source: SBBC, 18 May 2021

Zimbabwe imposes dusk to dawn curfew

On 29 June Zimbabwe’s President imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, banned inter-city travel and cut business hours with immediate effect in response to increasing coronavirus infections. Businesses can now open between 8 am and 3 pm, while a curfew will start from 6:30 pm to 6 am. Companies are required to only have 40% of their workforce. The measures will be in effect for two weeks, after which they will be reviewed.

Source: Reuters, 29 June 2021


Updates from PAHO and WHO

For regular updates on Covid-19 statistics, see the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization Covid-19 webpages, which include subregional and country epidemiological data.

Suriname: Total lockdown announced

On 29 May the Government of Suriname announced a total lockdown of the country for two and a half weeks to 18 June, in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19. President Chandrikapersad Santokhi pointed to a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, medical staff and health workers. With the exception of essential services, all government offices were closed and citizens were only allowed to leave home for emergencies, such as for medical reasons. Only supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, pharmacies and hardware stores were allowed to open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner, 30 May 2021