Low spread of covid-19 in African countries

African countries have had few cases of covid-19 compared to Europe and the United States. Effective, modern information work is seen as a reason for reducing the spread of the virus. At the same time, restrictions and curfews have exacerbated circumstances for millions of people.

The BBC reports that African countries have dealt with the pandemic in a fast and efficient way, which has contributed to the low spread of infection. Despite a population of over one billion people in Africa, only five percent of the world's covid-19 cases occur on the African continent.

To date, African countries have so far had approximately 1,8 million confirmed cases of covid-19 and approximately 45,000 deaths according to Worldomet iss figures (November 9). Most cases of covid-19 are found in South Africa with about 700,000 confirmed cases and about 19,000 deaths in covid-19.

Music, experience and a young population

I Global Bar Magazine's latest episode The reasons for the low spread and death rates of African countries are discussed. The section interviews the social anthropologist Patience Mususa and the doctor Chibuzo Okonta. According to them, the success story is informative music, previous experience of epidemics and a young population that is less exposed to the virus.

- We have doctors who are more experienced in handling epidemics, doctors who are more experienced in health promotion. In our region, we are good at communicating effectively with the population, says Chibuzo Okonta.

It is in health promotion that music matters. Corona songs like the Ugandan musician and politician Bobi Wines 'Corona Virus' has effectively disseminated information about the virus and hand hygiene to the population, according to Patience Mususa.

Other reasons for the good results are that many Africans work outdoors, that people do not travel as much as in Europe and that people are good at taking responsibility in the area where they live.

The economy exposed during the pandemic

When restrictions and curfews were introduced in several African countries in March and April, it suddenly became difficult for people to support themselves.

- The pandemic's biggest impact is on the economy, says Chibuzo Okonta in Global Bar Magazine's podcast.

In Uganda, curfews were introduced in the evenings as well as restrictions on public transport. In March reported the Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor about salesmen who were forced to walk for several hours to get to the market in order to sell their goods, and about people who did not make it home before the curfew and spent the nights in their market stalls.

A shutdown was imposed in Zimbabwe which made it difficult for people to keep their informal jobs such as street sales. The country was already in a difficult economic crisis before the corona pandemic.

"We will die of hunger [before we die of corona]," Zimbabwean Dzivira told Aljezeera earlier this spring.

Healthcare put on pause

Anna-Mia Ekström, professor of global infection epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet, expresses concern that healthcare in Africa has fallen by 70 percent since the beginning of the pandemic.

- It is about child care, maternal health care, access to vaccinations, she says in one interview on SVT.

As a result, maternal mortality has increased and vaccination campaigns have been postponed.

Aljezeera reports on pregnant Ugandan women who could not find transport to the hospital and therefore soaked on the way there and MSF writes about women who were not allowed to have an abortion as it was not prioritized as emergency medical care in comparison with treatment with covid-19.

- No woman should have to die like women die today, in vain, says Primah Kwagala, lawyer and CEO of the women's rights organization The Women's Probono Initiative to Aljezeera.

When restrictions are eased

However, due to the low levels of infection, several African countries have already eased their restrictions. The New Humanitarian discusses if forecasts of the pandemic's consequences have therefore been exaggerated. For example, forecasts from WHO and Oxfam about an extremely worsening famine in Africa were based on a markedly longer shutdown period.

Instead, The New Humanitarian emphasizes that it is important not to lose focus on deeper underlying problems that arose long before the pandemic hit the continent.

"We need to focus on ongoing conflicts and disasters again," said Hussaini Abdu, head of Plan International in Nigeria.

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