Originating from China, Coronavirus has now spread to more than 80 countries in the world. But, there are still few cases of the disease in Africa, and “experts are wondering why.”
There have been few cases of the virus in Africa, even though this is likely to change since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in South Africa. The patient had traveled to Italy and doctors confirmed he had the infection when he went for medical help on his own volition. The patient consulted a private doctor on 3 March with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat, and a cough. The patient has since isolated himself. Cases have also been confirmed in Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt. The disease is now rearing its ugly head in almost all parts of the globe but before it had accelerated like this, experts had been concerned about the low rate of COVID-19 in Africa in racist undertones.
The concern sounded more like, “Why is Africa not yet dead? Why are people in China and Europe dying and not Africa” as if Africa is the only place where it is befitting for people to be decimated by these outbreaks. The report carried in France 24, “With only three official cases, Africa's low coronavirus rate puzzles health experts” sounded more as if they were hurt that there are low cases of coronavirus in Africa. Is it not supposed to be a good thing that there are few cases? Why should the experts be worried that a virus is not in a particular place? While it is perfectly normal to investigate and understand the behavior of viruses in different environments, the headline posted by France 24 was extremely worrying. Are they concerned by the few cases so that their hope of the virus reaching the continent is fulfilled?
The words in their headline make one think that they are expecting the whole of the continent to go down. Yes, the continent has weak systems, but the extent of the virus as compared to other places like China, Italy, the UK and so forth should be a justifiable cause in finding the correct answers so that the rest of humanity is saved. Why should they be “puzzled”?
Their headline carries serious racial undertones and perhaps such a headline could have been changed to “What Can Scientists Learn From Africa?” for the benefit of the rest of humanity. The virus has now spread to more than 80 countries and the World Health Organization is coming under fire for not declaring it a pandemic. But the WHO argues that doing so will send people in an alarmist mode.
At this point, African governments must work extremely and remarkably hard in ensuring that people are tested and screened when they arrive at airports and cases must be reported. South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that the virus could be a crisis that could have a huge impact on the country. He said that people should quickly get access to medical help if they think that they have the virus symptoms and said that the country should not get into panic mode. "It will have a huge impact on a number of things... travel... our economy. It is already showing signs of a negative impact on tourism,” he said.
People only get into panic mode when they are not equipped with the necessary information about COVID-19 which has already claimed 3,015 lives in China and 267 globally and has infected more than 95,000 in the whole world. The US death toll is now at 12, and that in Italy stands at 148 as of now.
African governments should make sure that their citizens are well informed about the virus in relation to how it spreads, how it can be prevented by practicing good hygienic standards and also seeking early medical help in suspected cases. The WHO has declared Coronavirus a public health emergency already. International travel has been thrown in limbo because of the Coronavirus outbreak as more people are opting to stay home.
To get “puzzled” why there are few cases in Africa compared to other parts of the world betrays the negative perception that the West views Africa with. There are also few cases in South America and the same concern should be applied as well to that region.
The world is facing a tough time right now and governments should work on being transparent with their people, giving them the correct information and how to protect themselves. The WHO provided a quick guide on how the public can protect itself from the virus.