According to an official report by the Guardian, the first case of Coronavirus was recorded in November 2019 in Wuhan, China. By January this year, reports of increased cases of Coronavirus in China led to the shutdown of the popular livestock market in Wuhan.
However, it was already too late as the virus had not only spread to other parts of the country but has found its way into Europe and America.
While global health workers expressed surprise at the delay of Covid-19 cases in Africa, they expressed worry. The concern was centered around the outcome the deadly virus would have on the continent considering its poor standards of health systems.
Well, now the coronavirus is sadly alive and well in Africa. There are currently 10,663 cases of Covid-19 in the continent which has resulted in 533 deaths.
Even though African nations are known for applying fire-brigade approaches to issues such as this; the continent is doing so much to battle the epidemic.
Many countries in Africa are responding aggressively to the pandemic, something that has shocked and gained commendation from global health workers.
In Nigeria for instance, schools and religious gatherings were ordered closed after only eight cases were confirmed nationwide. The country currently records 256 cases and 6 deaths, but experts believe the case would have been worse if the measures were not introduced when it was.
South Africa banned visitors from high-risk countries, closed down schools and quickly opened drive-through testing centers in its Johannesburg city.
There is no denying that the epidemic like many emergencies before it exposed the fault in Africa’s emergency response and control; however when the many countries are doing a lot to make up.
Pandemic in Africa cripple the continent's fragile health-care systems and have devastating effects on the economy.
The head of the World Health Organization's Africa region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, while speaking on the epidemic said:
"Although there may be some undetected infections, we don't think these are very large in number."
Researchers continue to question whether Africa is somehow less vulnerable to the virus or if it is still just in an early phase of the epidemic.
Moeti speculated that the low number of cases may be because the Southern Hemisphere is just coming out of summer.
"In southern American countries there's also been spread but it has not been the same as we've seen in the Global North. So we are trying to understand if this could be related to temperature or weather," she said in a video conference call with reporters.
"We have a distinct flu season in the southern part of the continent and some Eastern African countries. We may from this infer that we should expect ... perhaps in a couple of months when the winter sets in in the South ... to see an increase in the rate of transmission of this virus."
A cross-section of critics believes that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa is so low simply because the virus isn't being detected.
At the beginning of February only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa —Senegal and South Africa — could test for the novel coronavirus.
Today, however, the case is different as WHO has helped more than 43 countries set up or augment their national laboratories so that they can also test for this pathogen.
The overall capacity of those labs is low, and the tests will have to be done in capital cities. But getting even a basic level of domestic testing capacity running could be crucial as borders close and international air transport grinds to a halt.
"Sometimes families live in houses where you don't have a bedroom for every family member," Moeti said. "Quite a few people in the family have to sit in the same space, sleep in the same space.
"Also they may be in houses that do not have running water so the possibilities of hand-washing in the ways that it’s recommended with soap are a challenge under those circumstances."
In a related development, Gyude Moore, who served as part of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's administration during the Ebola outbreak, says African nations are already innovating to fight COVID-19.
Moore believes that Africa’s experience with Ebola prepared them beforehand for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moore, who's now a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, says countries saw the devastation of the Ebola crisis and are taking steps to get ready for this virus.
"For example, Nigeria, they've applied the lessons from Ebola and they are doing their best to separate the response to the [coronavirus] pandemic from the provision of regular health care," he says.
"It allows the health system to continue to function and not be overwhelmed quickly. What we saw in West Africa [during Ebola] was how very fast and how easily the health system was overwhelmed as the caseload increased."
Covid-19 continues to spread across Africa and the world in general. The pandemic has put every nation of the world on its toes but it is fair to say that Africa has not faired too badly in its response.
What are your thoughts?
Quotes Credit: NPR