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Here Are Two Reasons Why COVID-19 Seems To Be Spreading More Slowly In Africa
As May comes to a close and we enter June, it’s hard to accept the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. While cases aren’t spreading as rapidly as the months prior, the virus is still traveling through The U.S. and other parts of the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is spreading more slowly in Africa than anywhere else. The continent holds about 17% of the world’s population, yet only has less than 2% of all confirmed cases in the world.
The Economist reports that cases in Africa have doubled about every two weeks in comparison to cases doubling about every three days in the U.S.
So why is it that COVID-19 seems to be spreading more slowly in Africa? There are a couple of factors.
Many African countries acted swiftly by implementing lockdowns and closing international borders. Africa as a continent reacted more quickly than Western and more affluent countries.
At least 42 African countries had lockdown orders in place by the end of April, with 38 of the countries having lockdowns in place for 21 days or more.
Africa has tested over 1 million people, which is usually done in a day in Wuhan, China. Almost half of the tests have been conducted in Ghana and South Africa.
The Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19 estimates that the tally is eight times higher than reported, stating, “the true number of infections is like to be much greater than currently known.”
Jason Andrews of Stanford University says that there are about 5-10% of uncounted cases of the people being tested.
However, countries like Mauritius, Namibia, and Seychelles have not reported new cases of COVID-19 in over two weeks and Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda have less than 700 cases combined and less than 1% of positive test rates.
Berhanu Nega, an Ethiopian opposition leader says “In a society like ours there’s simply no way this could be kept a secret,” in response to test results being undocumented.
Matshidiso Moetsi, the director for the WHO in Africa predicts, “While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder in transmission hotspots.” Moetsi says that the spread could be slower because Africans on the continent tend to travel less than people in other countries.
The WHO says that there will be a lower rate of infected people dying in Africa than in richer countries because Africa has fewer elderly people.
After months of lockdown, African countries are beginning to ease restrictions and get their economies back up and running.