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Coronavirus in Africa

M Sami Gohar

The writer is a senior journalist and media coordinator at Muhammad Ali Jinnah University.

The novel coronavirus – which emerged last December in China – has now engulfed the entire world and has swallowed thousands of lives. For the first two months, no one unfortunately took the matter seriously. US President Trump mocked it as a ‘Chinese virus’ and the world started noticing only when it reached them and then hurried in taking immediate relief measures. Till then it was too late and the coronavirus had now spread to every corner of the world.
It has been four months now and coronavirus is now creating chaos and destruction across the world. No country has been able to fully contain the pandemic and the number of cases has been rising exponentially. The virus which originated in China spread to neigbouring Asian countries and then onwards to Europe where it hit hard. The death toll in four European countries – Italy, Spain, Germany, and France – has even surpassed China.
The disease then reached USA creating such panic that it has reached the top of the list in terms of infections and deaths. The virus has now spread to six continents, excluding Antarctica, infected over a million people and killed 53,000 people worldwide.
The continent of Africa has been the least affected by coronavirus pandemic. There are 54 sovereign countries and ten semi-autonomous territories in Africa. It covers twenty percent of the planet’s landmass and has a 1.3 billion population including some of the poorest and impoverished countries in the world.
The number of coronavirus cases in the entire continent stands at 8,000 with 300 deaths, while 550 people have recovered from the disease. This is just a fraction of the infection in Europe and only compares to Portugal which has recorded 9,000 cases. Africa’s death toll is compared to Turkey where 356 people have lost their lives.
If the figures within the continent are analysed, South Africa is one of the worst affected with 1380 cases, 60 recoveries and five deaths. Algeria, Egypt and Morocco have between 500-1000 cases, while eight African countries including Tunis, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Nigeria, and Mauritania have 670 cases, 50 deaths and 155 recoveries.
There are seventeen African countries including Niger, Madagascar, Uganda, Togo, Zimbabwe, Mali, Djibouti, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, and Seychelles had only a hundred case each. The total number of cases is 566 with 17 deaths and 29 recovered. There are thirteen countries which has less than ten cases including Guinea Bissau, Angola, Zambia, Sudan, Botswana, Chad, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Libya, Somalia, Gambia, Burundi and Sierra Leone. There have no coronavirus in many countries.
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