One in four will catch COVID-19 this year across 47 of Africa’s countries. However, a model released by WHO’s regional office for Africa predicts less deaths for the continent than elsewhere.
Experts previously feared dire consequences once the virus hit Africa but the rates of COVID-19 transmission are slower than in Europe and the US, which count for two-thirds of global cases. The big question is why?
Recent research seems to show that diseases of lifestyle are one driving force to severe coronavirus cases and not poverty related diseases.
For example, those who suffer from obesity, hypertension or diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms of the virus according to the study. Rates of obesity in Africa are much lower than its Western counterparts, and although numbers are rising, they are considerably slower than those of the US.
Age seems to play a huge determining factor. Africa’s average age is lower than that of neighbouring Europe, which experts link to its predicted lower rates of infection. In fact, Europe, which experienced the worst of the pandemic behind the US, has an ageing population, with European care homes holding significant number of COVID-19 deaths.
It is estimated that the infection mortality rate across Africa is 0.06%, resulting in up to a predicted 190,000 deaths, compared to about 0.1% elsewhere.
To estimate the risk of transmission for the individual African states, indicators including people per household, population density and what proportion of the population lives in slums. It found that larger states like Algeria and Nigeria would be most at risk for large numbers of infection whilst those with less dense population like Niger and Chad, less so.
Despite fewer predicted deaths, those behind the model said that the expected rise in hospital admissions and need to care could overwhelm health services across Africa.
In Malta, the island’s only hotspot for COVID-19 cases was Ħal Far open centre, which holds predominately African migrants seeking asylum. Although registering 50 cases, few of these were severe and none resulted in death.
The centre was placed under quarantine for a total of 38 days after it registered its first COVID-19 cases on April 5th.
Meanwhile, 160 migrants attempting to seek asylum were found at sea near Malta, and are being kept on Captain Morgan vessels since the 1st May, following the decision to close its ports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite its closed ports, Malta is gearing up to open its borders to tourism, expecting to announce bilateral mechanisms through “safe travel corridors” for travel between at least 9 countries with similar handlings of the virus.
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