LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia has recorded its first death from coronavirus, and the number of confirmed cases has risen by three to 39, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said on Thursday.

“The same patient had an underlying chronic respiratory disorder and a history of travel to South Africa and contact with some cohorts who travelled to high-risk countries prior to his admission,” Chilufya said at a news conference.

Chilufya said the three new cases registered in the southern African country had all got the virus from people who had travelled abroad.

Africa has now registered almost 6,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 200 deaths. The continent is already suffering a huge economic impact from lockdowns aiming to contain the virus and a sharp fall in global demand for commodities.

African governments including Zambia had become heavily indebted in the decade before the virus struck and are seeking support from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and EU for wide-ranging debt relief.

Zambia’s finance ministry said this week it was looking for advisors to make its $11.2 billion of external debt more sustainable.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alexander Winning)