The prospect of Coronavirus spreading across the world’s poorest continent is frightening. The virus has spread to dozens of countries within weeks in Africa. In the absence of aggressive action, experts fear, will come a cascade of COVID-19 cases that quickly overwhelms weakened health care systems, coupled with an economic cataclysm that compounds the risk of a human tragedy on a continental scale.
More than two months after Egypt became the first country in Africa to confirm a Coronavirus case, the outbreak appears to have reached almost every nation on the continent of 1.2 billion people, according to Aljazeera. Millions of people are at high risk for COVID-19, without good access to doctors or medical equipment.
Up to 190,000 people in Africa could die of Coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday.
The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world,” the statement said.
“The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years.”
Fragile healthcare systems could be overwhelmed
African nations have some of the least developed health systems in the world, both because of extreme poverty across the continent and because of fraught relations between federal governments and traditional tribal groups drawn together by European cartographers who cared about little more than their colonistic enterprises a century ago.
Many African nations have little ability to test potential cases, and many Africans themselves do not have access to modern health facilities.
Experts warn fragile healthcare systems in many nations could be overwhelmed in the face of a severe COVID-19 outbreak.
“The pandemic is testing the health systems in Africa especially around the readiness to handle public health emergencies. The capabilities of handling a large number of critically ill patients would be the most challenging especially in countries with poor health systems,” said David Meya, an infectious disease expert at the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University in Uganda.
Vital economic activity is under threat
As the rate of infections increase, the continent’s economies are coming to a crashing halt, risking the reversal of two decades of economic progress, The Africa Report mentioned.
Now, vital economic activity, and the millions of livelihoods it sustains, is under threat.
In this context, the state in South Africa is not in a position to craft the kind of economic rescue packages required to soften the blow from the havoc wrecked by the novel Coronavirus.
The way isolation measures aren’t going to work in Africa
Africa’s struggles with convincing their populations to stay inside illustrate the continent’s relative poverty, a contrast with Southeast Asia, where wealthier populations were less susceptible to extremes like starvation.
“The way isolation measures have been used in Southeast Asia aren’t going to work in Africa,” McClelland said, The Hill told.
And the situation is likely to become more combustible if prolonged lockdowns strain families who do not have regular access to food.
There’s no access to running water
For public health officials around the world, density control is proving to be the most effective tool in their arsenal to slow down the rate of transmission. But, in townships across South Africa where millions of people live in crammed, makeshift houses perched on top of burst sewage pipes, telling people to stay at home and hunker down seems like a callous and potentially counter-intuitive prescription from a public health standpoint, Weforum reported.
In these densely populated communities, where there’s no access to running water and where a single family must share one mobile toilet with at least 10 other families, how on earth do we expect this segment of society to diligently practice hand-washing with soap and water?
Camps are chronically underfunded, overcrowded, lack adequate water
Africa hosts over 25.2 million refugees and internally displaced people and is home to four of the world’s six largest refugee camps. These camps are chronically underfunded, overcrowded, lack adequate water; sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as poor health care facilities, making occupant vulnerable to COVID-19
Taking South Sudan as an example, there are over 1.6 million internally displaced people in the country, and it often takes people hours, even days, to reach healthcare facilities, Venturesafrica told.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterre, called for stronger coordination of international organizations and world leaders to ensure the more vulnerable countries get the support they need.
It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who said that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Now more than ever, what happens to Spain affects the United States. What might happen to Africa will most certainly affect the world.