African cardinal tests positive for coronavirus as pandemic spreads across the continent

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2020 / 10:28 am (CNA).- Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso has tested positive for the coronavirus, his archdiocese announced Tuesday. He is the second cardinal known to have tested positive for the virus, which is now a global pandemic.

Ouédraogo, 75, has been admitted to a medical clinic in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.  He is “in good condition and his close collaborators are reported to be self-isolating,” a spokesman for Burkina Faso’s bishops’ conference, Fr. Paul Dah, told ACI Africa on March 31.

The cardinal is president of the African continental bishops’ conference, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). He was elected to the post in July 2019. He has been Archbishop of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso for ten years, and was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2014.

Ouédraogo is the second bishop from Burkina Faso known to have contracted COVID-19, as countries across Africa implement lockdowns and restrictions to slow the spread of the virus across the continent.

Another Burkina Faso bishop, Archbishop Emeritus Séraphin François Rouamba of Koupela, tested positive for COVID-19 after being admitted to Our Lady of Peace clinic for urgent treatment on March 19.

The 78-year-old archbishop has since been transferred to another hospital and is reportedly in stable condition, according to a March 25 statement from Bishop Laurent Birfuore Dabire of Dori, Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso has the largest documented coronavirus outbreak in West Africa, with 249 documented cases as of March 31, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The coronavirus has spread throughout the African continent to 47 countries, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control. In North Africa, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco each have more than 500 documented cases, and the South African government has reported more than 1,300.

Three Nigerian states began two-week mandatory lockdown this week to combat the spread of the virus, including Lagos, Africa’s most populous city with more than 20 million people.

Zimbabwe and Mauritius have also implemented national shut-downs, and the bishops in South Sudan and Zimbabwe have suspended public Masses.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, tested positive for coronavirus on March 30.

Other bishops in Italy, France, China, and the United States have also tested positive for COVID-19, and Bishop Angelo Moreschi, 67, died in the Italian city of Brescia on March 25 after contracting the coronavirus.



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