The Nigerian President's chief of staff has died due to the coronavirus marking one of the high ranking deaths in Africa due to the virus. Abba Kyari who was said to be in his 70s has had underlying health problems which included diabetes.

He was a top official who aided President Muhammadu Buhari during his presidency. On Friday, the spokesman Garba Shehu tweeted "The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari." The coronavirus cases have surpassed 1,000 in the continent upon which the World Health Organisation expressed concerns and warned that Africa could be the next coronavirus epicentre.

The WHO has warned that at least 300,000 people will die due to the coronavirus and push 30 million people into poverty. There has been a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the past week. As of Friday, there have been 1,000 deaths and almost 19,000 infections across Africa.

Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari, Nigerian President's Chief of Staff Twitter Grab/ @Um_kareto

Nigerian cases and the high-profile death

The spokesman said that Kyari died on Friday, April 17. Nigeria has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths according to the country's Center for Disease Control. Kyari had visited Germany in early March with a delegation. Upon his return, he had also met with other senior officials in the country. Buhari is also said to have several ailments which have not been disclosed by the officials. He has also spent around five months in London in 2017 to treat his ailments.

According to the John Hopkins data, there have been 17,000 infections in the continent so far. Algeria has the highest deaths because of the coronavirus with 364 people dying due to the disease, followed by Egypt with 205, Morocco 135 and South Africa 50.

Africa was seemingly less affected by the coronavirus until recently. The African leaders, International Monetary Fund and World Bank have appealed for immediate action to help the countries in the continent survive the pandemic situation. The limited testing has been able to deprive the leaders of the full picture of the pandemic.

Spreading away from the capitals

The WHO has said that the spread is moving away from the capitals with UN Economic Commission for Africa saying that 300,000 could die because of COVID-19 and called for a $100 billion safety net for the continent. The continent lacks ventilators to deal with the spread of the disease. Data says that more than a third of the population lacks adequate water supply and around 60 percent of the population live in slums which are overcrowded. These are said to be conditions where the virus could thrive.

The reason there is less number of infections is said to be because of the reduced number of international travel to and from Africa. WHO Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti told the BBC about the statistic about the travel between Africa and the rest of the world which justified the less number of cases so far. There is also a shortage of wide testing in the country. According to Moeti, the virus is spreading largely from the main cities to the rural parts in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana.