With the health systems depressed with minimal funding, porous borders and bloating public expenditure and corruption, Africa faces its toughest test.
Infections in Africa have been steadily rising after initial indications had shown the continent was not affected by coronavirus compared to other regions. What started with a few cases in Nigeria and Egypt has risen to over 500 cases and a dozen deaths.
Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) says there could be more cases that what is officially documented. The explanation according to Ethiopian born and head of WHO is that the tests being conducted by the local governments are not as robust.
“I think Africa should wake up. My continent should wake up,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
WHO reports that there are over slightly over 591 coronavirus patients in Africa and the numbers are rising each day. Egypt reported the largest number of positive cases (196), followed by South Africa (116), Algeria (72), Morocco (49), Senegal (31), Burkina Faso (20), Cameroon (10), Rwanda (8), Democratic Republic of the Congo (7), Ghana (7) and Kenya (7).
There are emerging reports of cases of people suspected to have coronavirus and who have later been allowed to integrate with the community only for them to show symptoms later. Such a case happened in Kenya where a person in isolation was allowed back to society but was tracked down by security and returned to isolation and soon tested positive.
Patrick Omwanda Amoth, the acting Director-General of Health at Kenya’s ministry of health confirmed the sad case.
He said: “There was a patient who was in Mbagathi and apparently left the facility. Through the security apparatus in the country, we tracked her, brought her back and tested her. The results were positive.”
In the process, the government expects the patient had contact with over 85 people raising fear that more infections are expected.
There have also been reports appearing in social media of patients suspected to be of Chinese origin who have been diagnosed with the disease but the authorities have swept it under the carpet. The government has warned against sending out unverified information about coronavirus, which has in the process jeopardized public vigilance.
Initially, WHO had identified 13 countries in Africa as being at risk of the coronavirus infection on 31st January. These countries included Algeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. They either have direct links to China or handle a large volume of travel to China. Effective screening mechanisms have been introduced at all major airports of these countries.
Of these countries, only Uganda is yet to report its first case. “It is wise that we temporarily remove these concentration points to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All these institutions, without exception, should close so that we deny this virus high concentration. We don’t want the virus to find dry grass ready for ignition,” Museveni said while announcing the closure of all primary and secondary schools, university and other institutions of learning.
To ease the tension on commerce, the Kenyan government announced that it was already in consultation with the Chinese government to allow the free movement of cargo from China to maintain the momentum of growth in industries as well as consumer goods. This, however, will be done under strict conditions to ensure the goods are disinfected from point of departure as well as point of arrival.
Source: The Exchange