But so far, the virus has not come wherever near wreaking the identical injury in Africa as in Europe and the US – a phenomenon that has stirred a lot debate.
Africa’s first case was introduced in Egypt on 14 February and two weeks later, the first affected person south of the Sahara was documented in Nigeria.
Since then, Africa’s 55 states have notched up round 72 000 instances, in response to an AFP tally compiled from official figures.
This quantities to lower than two % of the international whole, whereas Africa accounts for 17 % of the planet’s inhabitants.
The proportion of fatalities additionally appears far decrease in Africa – the 2 500 fatalities, expressed as a proportion of recognized instances, yields a loss of life price roughly half that of the rest of the world.
Experts sound a notice of warning about the figures, saying the tally of infections in Africa, as elsewhere, may very well be under-represented by lack of testing.
If Africa appears so far to have been comparatively spared, a number of explanations come to thoughts, say specialists.
One is that Africa, mendacity exterior the predominant pathways of an infection from China, used the treasured weeks properly and responded rapidly when the virus ultimately confirmed up.
“Confinement measures were taken quite early, and this slowed the curve. Most countries implemented these measures almost as soon as the first case was detected,” Michel Yao, primarily based in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville for the World Health Organization (WHO), instructed AFP.
“In France, it took 52 days after the first case for measures to be taken. In Ivory Coast, the schools and borders were closed five days after the first case. A week later, there was a curfew,” stated Jean-Marie Milleliri, an epidemiologist and specialist in tropical public well being primarily based in Abidjan.
Another protecting issue for Africa is that so many of its individuals are younger, in response to one thought.
Coronavirus deaths are sometimes concentrated amongst the aged and folks with underlying well being circumstances, stated Omar Sarr, a professor of medication at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University.
Around 60 % of Africa’s inhabitants is underneath 25.
“The median age (in Africa) is around 19 years,” stated Milleliri. “Also, there are fewer elderly people because life expectancy is lower. So there are fewer cases and a virus that is less active.”
Yap Boum II, an epidemiologist in Cameroon with the French medical charity MSF, additionally famous: “The population density in Africa is lower, which limits the spread of the virus, and Africans are less mobile compared with western populations.”
Within African nations, “most cases are concentrated in the capital and large cities, and less in rural areas,” Yao agreed.
Another concept is that individuals dwelling in Africa could have a greater resistance to the novel virus than in the developed world.
“There is crossover immunity, due to long exposure to various micro-organisms, and high vaccine coverage, notably with BCG,” urged Sarr, referring to a venerable anti-TB jab that intriguingly could also be linked to safety towards Covid-19.
Milleliri, extra cautious, stated, “There are lots of diseases in Africa, so populations are possibly better immunised than European populations against pathogens like coronavirus.”
He pointed to Darwinian stress as the potential cause: “When several pathogenic viruses are competing against each other, some can block out others.”
African nations have begun easing anti-coronavirus restrictions, many of them fearful of the impression of lockdowns on the city poor.
Such strikes must be matched by vigilance, say specialists.
“We are really very prudent, we are doing all we can to identify, test and isolate and keep tracing all contacts to be able to contain the pandemic before it gets out of proportion,” stated Boureima Hama Sambo, the WHO’s consultant in Ethiopia.
“We hope the worst will be behind us but for now we are not there yet.”
A modelling research this month urged the pandemic may infect 44 million individuals in Africa in its first 12 months, inflicting between 83 000 and 190 000 deaths.
Several African leaders are already warning, like illness specialists, that in the absence of a vaccine the virus is right here to remain.
“We now have to live with the virus, modifying our individual and collective behaviour,” Senegalese President Macky Sall stated.
In South Africa, the worst-hit nation on the continent, President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a Churchillian tone on Monday, saying a nationwide lockdown “gave our country a strategic advantage” in the battle with the virus.
But, he warned, “we will and should anticipate infections to rise as extra individuals return to work.
“We must accept the reality, prepare for it and adapt to it.”