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04.04.2020 Europe

EU should help African 'neighbours' as fears of 'out of control' pandemic rise - EU official

© AFP - Francois Lenoir
LISTEN APR 4, 2020
© AFP - Francois Lenoir

European countries will club together and “create a package” to try and help African countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said. Cases of Covid-19 have topped more than 7,000 across the African continent and the EU is concerned that many African countries could be overwhelmed by the pandemic.

“Africa is of particular concern to us, they're our neighbours and the pandemic there could get out of control very rapidly,” Borrell told a press conference in Brussels after discussions with European foreign ministers. 

The Spanish diplomat described Africa's “fragile” healthcare systems, comparing the number of doctors per capita, the number of hospital beds and intensive care units (ICU) with Europe. “The difference is overwhelming, so it's clear that the same threat can cause much damage in Africa,” he added. 

Covid-19's spread will not be over until it is under control everywhere, according to Borrell: “Priority should be given to assistance for the most vulnerable countries as this is also in our interest in the longer term.” 

European development ministers will meet on 8 April to discuss “concrete measures” to help the African continent with coronavirus, the EU foreign policy chief said. 

Africa confirmed a total of 7,123 coronavirus cases, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in statistics circulated on Friday evening. Covid-19 has resulted in 289 deaths on the African continent with South Africa and Algeria the hardest hit.