Africa and the pandemic

Aggiornamento: 9 apr 2020

The data on coronavirus in Africa return a confusing and basically indecipherable situation. Meanwhile, the WHO warns about the continent's scarce health resources against COVID-19

150 in Kenya, 50 in Senegal, 45 in Zambia, 38 in Tanzania, 34 in Malawi, 40 in Ethiopia. These are not the cases of coronaviruses found in those countries: these are the number of intensive therapies available throughout the countries; data that almost turn to zero in the most conflict-torn nations.

The WHO has raised the alarm about the imminent wave of COVID-19 that will hit Africa and the lack of health resources needed to manage the epidemic on the continent. The African countries most affected by the virus at the moment are South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Deaths are low, but this is not reassuring enough. Many fatal diseases in those areas have the same symptoms as COVID-19, which makes it particularly difficult to distinguish positive from negative.

The socio-economic conditions in which many inhabitants live also represent an additional problem in containing the pandemic. Sanitary facilities are less accessible and starvation weakens the body, making the effects of a possible infection more devastating.

While it is true that other epidemics have tested the African continent in the past, it is also true that they have been dealt with in more limited regions, which is very different from a pandemic that requires far different strategies. Not to mention that in this case it would be difficult to obtain humanitarian aid from Western countries, given that they are already struggling to manage the coronavirus within their own territories.

At the moment, some countries in Africa do not seem to report any cases of patients positive for the virus. This absence appears, however, absolutely improbable, especially if we consider the characteristics of the countries in question: countries such as Sierra Leone, with health facilities poorly adapted to the monitoring of biological risks, or South Sudan, currently devastated by internal conflicts.

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