How is Africa avoiding a surge in COVID-19 cases?

  • Only a handful of countries are driving up infection rates
  • Many nations went on strict lockdown after their first few cases
  • Low travel rates mean there’s less chance of spreading

When the coronavirus pandemic began, many experts predicted horrific consequences for African nations with delicate healthcare systems. But six months into the COVID-19 era, these scenarios, including overwhelming numbers of sick and unthinkable mortality rates, just haven’t happened. 

Many nations of the African continent acted quickly when their first few coronavirus cases popped up, closing schools and businesses and instituting strict lockdowns. This, combined with limited infrastructure and low rates of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure which are thought to be comorbid to coronavirus, have kept infection rates low in a majority of African countries. 

A handful of countries, which are either popular travel destinations or have begun lifting lockdowns and reversing closures, are responsible for 85% of increasing rates, according to the Guardian. Modeling from the World Health Organization shows these countries may be Algeria, Cameroon, and South Africa, along with five others. 

The WHO has also made statements regarding testing in countries on the continent. While there have been challenges addressing testing rates in Africa, the WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said in a press conference that “large numbers of severe cases and deaths are not being missed.”

However, she did note that without a vaccine, infections would continue to rise. 

“Until such time as we have access to an effective vaccine, I’m afraid we’ll probably have to live with a steady increase in the region, with some hotspots having to be managed in a number of countries,” Moeti said.

Sources: CNN, The Guardian, NPR

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