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Over 300,000 Africans may lose their lives due to COVID-19, says the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in a new report.

In as much as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact on the continent’s struggling economies whose growth is expected to slow down from 3.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent in a best-case scenario.

The report made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday by its Communications Section, the ECA said the scenario would also push close to 27 million people into extreme poverty.

The report, which was launched virtually on Friday and titled: “COVID-19: Protecting African Lives and Economies”, the ECA said Africa’s fragile health systems could see additional costs being imposed on them.

The UN explained that this is because of the growing crisis that has, to date, resulted in over 16,000 infected Africans and claimed over 800 lives at the time of the report’s launch.

Ms Vera Songwe, UN Executive Secretary, ECA, said that to protect and build toward the continent’s shared prosperity, 100 billion dollars is needed to urgently and immediately provide fiscal space to all countries.

She said this is to help address the immediate safety net needs of the populations

Songwe noted that Africa is particularly susceptible, because 56 per cent of its urban population is concentrated in slums or informal dwellings and only 34 per cent of African households have access to basic handwashing facilities.

“The economic costs of the pandemic have been harsher than the direct impact of the COVID-19.

“Across the continent, all economies are suffering from the sudden shock to the economies.

“The physical distancing needed to manage the pandemic is suffocating and drowning economic activity,” she said.

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