Coronavirus could “smolder” in Africa for years with many death-WHO warns

by Duke Magazine

Presently, the deadly coronavirus has been confirmed in over 180 countries of world since its breakout in December 2019 from the epicenter, Wuhan China.

The infectious disease has had a devastating impact on lives across all continents except Antarctica. This is also the same tone in Africa continent as its confirmed cases has been recorded in all African countries except Lesotho.

Here is the latest data in the continent as recorded:

  • Confirmed cases = 57,844
  • Number of deaths = 2,154
  • Recoveries = 19,133
  • Infected countries = 53
  • Virus-free countries = 1 (Lesotho)


The coronavirus could “smolder” in Africa for years and take a high death toll across the continent, the World Health Organization has warned.

The virus is really on a fast-pace spread in Africa, even though there has not been a dazing spike in the number of confirmed cases on the continent. 

It has been reported by African countries that more than 52,000 confirmed cases and 2,074 deaths have been recorded according to figures released Friday (May 8) by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an increasing rate of 42% within one week. 

There is a seemingly slow spread of disease across Africa in comparison to Europe, according to the WHO report. Officials say that could be due to poor surveillance or less developed transport links.

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,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa who is based in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. She also envisaged a pitch of the disease outbreak after a one month of community transmission.

“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat,” Moeti said in a video call.

The WHO has given an estimated range between 83,000 and 190,000 lives could be lost to the ravaging pestilence within one year of its outbreak, if adequate containment measures are not put in place to grapple the spread. Just like a population of 44 million persons of the continent’s 1.3 billion people stand the risk of being infected at the same. This estimation is based on the prediction model of 47 African countries by the U.N health agency. 

About 43 African countries have already implemented preventive measures to check the spread of the virus which range from placing ban on public gatherings to curfews in major cities and a nationwide lockdown.

Africa, whose larger population percentage is under 20 years old, stands a chance of pulling through the infection and its fatality, as the elders and those with underlying sicknesses are susceptible to coronavirus complications causing death.

But Africa could see a more prolonged outbreak that lasts a few years, according to the study. Algeria, South Africa and Cameroon as well as several smaller African countries are at high risk if containment measures are not prioritized, it said.

Not fewer than 5.5 million Africans could be hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, and this is going to over stretch the available medical facilities in countries, said the study.

Africa has an average of nine intensive care unit beds per 1 million people, according to a recent WHO survey. These would be “woefully inadequate,” the new report said.

“The importance of promoting effective containment measures is crucial, as sustained and widespread transmission of the virus could severely overwhelm our health systems,” said Dr. Moeti. “Curbing a large-scale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures that governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus.”

Maintenance of proper health hygiene of washing hands frequently and practicing social distance are sacrosanct to put the spread of the virus at check in Africa.

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