On the evening of Sunday March 15, as the COVID-19 virus continued its destructive advance around the world, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a “national state of disaster.” By Wednesday, the number of confirmed infections reached 116 in the country. Across the continent, there were reportedly more than 600 confirmed infections in 33 countries—far more by the time you read this—many hitting with weak health systems and vulnerable citizens already grappling with other serious diseases.

As in the United States, it is not yet clear how severe the pandemic will become in South Africa or across the African continent, but already the numbers of those testing positive for coronavirus are steadily rising.

Read the full op-ed by Chris Collins and Yale School of Public Health Dean Sten Vermund in Think Global Health.