The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Africa could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Officials of the international origination say that although Africa has experienced a sharp rise in Coronavirus cases within the past week, it is likely the pandemic will kill at least 300,000 people and push nearly 30 million into poverty.
There are currently 21,247 total confirmed cases, 15,044 active confirmed cases, 5,124 recoveries and 1,079 deaths across Africa, albeit the records are considered ‘very low’ compared to cases in many parts of Europe, Asia, and the United States.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - which warned 300,000 could die - called for a $100bn (£80bn) safety net for the continent, including halting external debt payments. The WHO says the virus appears to be spreading away from African capitals.
One reason that the World Health Organization has given for the prediction is the lack of ventilators in the continent to deal with the pandemic. More than a third of Africa's population lacks access to adequate water supplies and nearly 60% of urban dwellers live in overcrowded slums - conditions where the virus could thrive.
With a population of about 1.3 billion people, many critics believe that the current total number of cases does not justify the prediction by the WHO. They argue that prediction should be carried out using available data and justifiable statistics; thus, the claims of Africa becoming the epicenter of Coronavirus by the health organization do not have a concrete basis.
Critics agree that the continent is behind in terms of water and health facilities; however, they believe that Africa’s decision to enforce strict lockdowns in many cities despite the economic disadvantages shows its commitment to unite in defeating the virus.
They further added through comments and posts on social media that the predictions of doom in Africa as a result of Coronavirus is a desperate measure by the WHO to save its face after its response was criticized by US President Trump last week.
The American president followed his threat with actions and suspended funding for the WHO after he accused the organization of failing to respond to the pandemic in time.
While addressing a conference last week, President Trump said:
"I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
Many critics and spectators believe this decision has caused panic in the WHO, prompting it to direct its response attention to ‘vulnerable countries.’
Meanwhile, the African director of WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has said while speaking to BBC Global Health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar that international travel played a part in reducing the cases of Coronavirus in Africa.
"If you look at the proportion of people who travel, Africa has fewer people who are traveling internationally," she said.
But now that the virus is within Africa, she says that her organization is acting under the assumption that it will spread just as quickly as elsewhere.
Critics again believe that an organization like the WHO should not act on ‘assumptions’ but facts and figures; they say efforts should be made to create a vaccine soon.
What are your thoughts?