Why coronavirus has been less deadly in Africa



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Many African countries have been praised for waging an effective campaign to combat the spread of coronavirus despite their reputation for having fragile state heath systems.

The continent, which has a population of more than one billion, has had about 1.5 million cases, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins University.

Africa has recorded about 37,000 deaths, compared with roughly 580,000 in the Americas, 230,000 in Europe, and 205,000 in Asia.

These figures are far lower than those in Europe, Asia or the Americas, with reported cases continuing to decline.

“The case-fatality ratio (CFR) for Covid-19 in Africa is lower than the global CFR, suggesting the outcomes have been less severe among African populations,” noted a recent continental study by Partnership for Evidence-based Response to Covid-19 (PERC), which brings together a number of private and public organisations.

Low testing rates continue to undermine the continental response however, there is no indication that a large number of Covid-19 deaths have been missed, said Dr John Nkengasong, the head of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

So what are some of the reasons for Africa’s relatively low death rate?

1: Quick action



a group of people in a room: Most places of worship in African countries have re-opened after the easing of restrictions


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Most places of worship in African countries have re-opened after the easing of restrictions

The first case on the continent was confirmed in Egypt on 14 February. There were fears that the new virus could quickly overwhelm largely fragile health systems on the continent.

So, right from the beginning, most African governments took drastic measures to try and slow the spread of the virus.

Public health measures – including avoiding handshakes, frequent hand-washing, social distancing and wearing of face masks – were swiftly introduced.



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Some countries – like Lesotho – acted even before a single case was reported.

It declared an emergency and closed schools on 18 March, and went into a three-week lockdown about 10 days later in unison with many other southern Africa states.

But only days after the lockdown was lifted – in early May – did Lesotho find its first confirmed cases. In a population of more than 2 million, it has so far recorded about 1,700 cases and 40 deaths.

2: Public support

In a survey conducted in 18 countries in August by PERC, public support for safety measures was high – 85% of respondents said they wore masks in the previous week.

“With strict public health and social measures implemented, African Union member states were able to contain the virus between March and May,” the report said.

It added that “minor loosening [of restrictions] in June and July coincided with an increase in the reported cases across the continent”.

Since then, there has been a notable drop in the number of confirmed cases and deaths in about half of the continent, possibly linked to the end of the southern hemisphere winter (see below).



chart, bar chart: Adherence to Covid-19 measures. Survey in 18 African countries. Self-reported adherence to coronavirus measures in Africa. The report draws on findings from a telephone poll of more than 24,000 adults in 18 AU Member States (conducted between 4 and 17 August, 2020) as well as social, economic, epidemiological, population movement, media and security data. It draws on findings from a telephone poll of more than 24,000 adults between 4 -17 August 2020.


© Provided by BBC News
Adherence to Covid-19 measures. Survey in 18 African countries. Self-reported adherence to coronavirus measures

The Latest: Africa CDC: International traveling platform

JOHANNESBURG — African governments have worked together to launch a digital platform to inform travelers about COVID-19 travel restrictions across the continent, as many countries ease restrictions on international travel.

Still reeling from nearly six months of a ban on international travel to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, major airports on the continent have now resumed international flights, but with specific restrictions.

The #Trusted Travel, My COVID Pass, will provide travelers in Africa with information about what requirements they will face going to different countries in the continent, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr.John Nkengasong, said Monday.


The digital platform will also offer links to laboratories where travelers will be able to get the COVID-19 test results that are required for entry into many African countries, said Nkengason on an Africa CDC internet press conference.

Some of the continent’s largest laboratory firms have backed the initiative. Chairman of South Africa’s Ampath Laboratories, Dr. Robbie Buck, said private labs across the continent can deliver test results in 24 hours. He discouraged travelers from trying to get tests at airports, saying the new platform for Africa could enable them to go to laboratories for screening and test results before they go to the airport.

To enter South Africa, for example, a traveler must produce a negative test result delivered within 72 hours of the departure of the flight. Other African countries have different requirements.

The new website is designed to inform travelers about the different requirements across the continent, said Nkengasong.

It will initially provide information for 12 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal, considered travel hubs as they have high air traffic volumes.

Director at Kenya Airways, Julius Thairu, said even though airlines are now allowed to operate, they have far fewer passengers than before the COVID-19 outbreak. Kenya Airways is currently operating with only 20% of the passengers it had before the travel bans were imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, he said.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Saginaw man is home after more than six months in health-care facilities, all related to COVID-19.

John Curtis, 44, had abdominal surgery, seizures, sepsis, paralysis and more. He was released last week from his last stop: Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“He’s been through a lot,” said Dr. Ralph Wang, a rehab specialist.

“I think COVID probably caused half of his problems,” Wang told WOOD-TV. “So it was very significant. I think it