"In other countries we have seen how the virus has accelerated from a certain threshold. The best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst right now," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual press conference.
The WHO Director-General, who is a native of Ethiopia, pointed out that in sub-Saharan Africa alone 233 cases have been recorded by the authorities, warning that many others will certainly have been detected and flagged.
Three new countries in Africa announced the first infections by the new coronavirus, bringing to 33 the number of states affected by the Covid-19 pandemic on the African continent, which totals almost 600 cases.
Gambia (01), Zambia (02) and Djibouti (01) were the countries that announced this Wednesday the existence of the first infections, on the same day that Burkina Faso registered five new cases and the first death caused by the disease.
According to the Worldometers website on the Covid-19 pandemic, which compiles almost real-time information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), official sources in the countries and the media, nearly 80 new cases were registered in 14 African countries on Wednesday.
South Africa has registered 31 new cases and now accounts for 116, making it the country with the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa.
New cases were also registered this Wednesday in Equatorial Guinea (02), Algeria (11), Tunisia (02), Sudan (01), Kenya (03), Morocco (05), Ivory Coast (02), Senegal (04), Democratic Republic of Congo (04), Tanzania (02) and Rwanda (01).
Somalia, which announced its first case this week, closed schools and universities for two weeks and advised against concentrations of people.
In Uganda, although no cases have yet been reported, religious ceremonies and gatherings with more than 10 people have been suspended.
Lusophone countries - Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe - remain without confirmed cases.
The accounts of international news agencies point to at least 600 cases and 16 deaths in 33 of the continent's 55 countries and territories, while data from the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) of the African Union records more than 500 infections in 31 countries.
The CDC has scheduled its fourth 'briefing' since the pandemic was declared this Thursday, while health experts from 20 African countries are participating in conferences with doctors in China in an attempt to collect data to halt the advance of the virus.