It’s no secret that the U.S. is the number one country in the world when it comes to COVID-19 cases. As a result, the healthcare system is under a lot of pressure, there is a shortage of masks and lack of coronavirus tests.
Many Americans who were living or studying abroad have returned home until the pandemic ends and the U.S. embassies overseas even organized ways for U.S. citizens to get home. However, there are quite a few expats in Africa who have decided to stay on the continent instead of returning to the U.S.
Africa has been taking preventative measures and has been experiencing a significantly less amount of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to other continents.
If Africa were to not act as fast as they did, the impact could have been devastating. Instead of waiting, many African countries closed their borders and went under lockdown to stop the spread.
There is a large amount of Americans living on the continent decided to stay because they were scared of being exposed to the disease while traveling back to the U.S. Others say they have no health insurance if they were to return home, and healthcare is cheaper in Africa, so they could afford the best care there. Then there are expats who are staying because their spouses don’t have visas to travel to the U.S.
Ms. Shaw, chief executive of a solar power company in Kenya tells The New York Times, “Life can be challenging in Africa, but people are used to dealing with complex circumstances. In the United States, the economy is so high-functioning and everything is so intertwined that these disruptions are cataclysmic.” In addition to living in Kenya, Ms. Shaw lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo for five years.
African countries, like Senegal, have been preparing for this pandemic by closing schools, testing for coronavirus and making sure there is food on shelves in grocery stores as well as hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Roxi Shryock has been living in Senegal for almost four years and tells The New York Times that she didn’t return to the U.S. because “There were so many people saying different things on social media that it’s scary.” Her husband also does not have a visa to visit America and she didn’t want to leave her family for an unknown amount of time.
Shryock also expresses her healthcare concerns in Senegal to The New York Times: “Being sick here terrifies me, but I don’t feel like there’s anything better, even in America right now. I’m sure it’s more sanitary in America, and there are more doctors than here. But they are running out of equipment there. We feel safe here and don’t feel scared here — not yet anyway.”
April Pope is an expat living in South Africa and says, “I was happy that the government stepped in quickly before COVID-19 spread out of control. As for being here vs. Going back home, I actually never thought about going back to the U.S. However, if I were confronted to make a choice, I wouldn’t be comfortable on a plane, confined to a window seat for over 13 hours.”
Currently, doctors and supplies are being sent from Somalia, China and Russia to Western nations and many African migrants living in Western countries are returning to the continent during this pandemic.