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Virus cases in Africa now more than 2000


A handout photo made available by GCIS (Government Information Services) dated 23 March 2020 shows President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national lockdown as a result of Covid-19 Coronavirus, Pretoria, South Africa. The lockdown will continue for 21 days and will start Thursday 26 March at midnight. EPA/GCIS 

A unprecedented lockdown looms in South Africa over the coronavirus, with a country of 57 million people told to stay home starting on Friday.

Virus cases leapt again to 554 on Tuesday, the most of any country in Africa. Forty-three of the continent's 54 countries now have cases, with the total at 2046, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Africa needs a $US150 billion ($A254 billion) emergency financing package, Ethiopia's government said in a proposal to the G20 global forum for economic cooperation ahead of the G20 summit.

Rwanda and Tunisia also have announced lockdowns. In South Africa, determined shoppers are making their last runs for supplies as authorities try to reassure the public that food will not run out.

Workers across South Africa will be required to stay home except for those in essential services including health care and security as well as the production and distribution of food, utilities and medical products.

South Africa's economic hub of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, has the country's highest number of infections with 302, followed by the Western Cape, which includes the city of Cape Town, with 213.

Elsewhere in Africa, the West African nation of Niger recorded its first virus-related death. Authorities said a 63-year-old man who was brought to a hospital Monday tested positive for the virus after he died Tuesday. Niger's health minister also reported three new cases, bringing the country's total to six.

South Sudan closed its borders as the country struggling to rebuild from a five-year civil war tried to prevent the virus from arriving.

Some senior government officials and others were not complying with orders to be checked for fever at the airport in the capital.

Nigeria's ban on international flights began. And Zimbabwe's president said the country was closing its borders to all but returning residents.

© AP 2020