The Successful Timeline Of Africa’s Coronavirus Nightmare Defilement

by Duke Magazine

Amid the worrisome yet blurry understanding of the operations of the novel coronavirus, sub-Saharan Africa has been able to dodge a deadly wave of the pandemic cases. However, there has been many contributory factors to this effect. A number of West African nations already had a pandemic response infrastructure in place from the Ebola outbreak of late 2013 to 2016. Six years ago, Liberia lost not fewer than 5,000 people to Ebola. At the beginning of this year, Liberia began COVID-19 screening at airports. Travelers coming in from countries with more than 200 cases were quarantined. Today, Liberia, a country with population of about 5 million persons has recorded 1,335 confirmed cases of the virus with about 82 fatalities. 

At the post-Ebola pandemic event, Senegal set up an emergency operations center to manage public health crises. Some COVID-19 test results came back in 24 hours, and the country employs aggressive contact tracing. Every coronavirus patient is given a bed in hospital or other health-care facility. Senegal with a population of 16 million persons has recorded 302 deaths. 

Several countries have come up with innovations. Rwanda, a country of 12 million, also responded early and aggressively to the virus, using equipment and infrastructure that was in place to deal with HIV/AIDS. Testing and treatment for the virus are free. In the case of Rwanda, only 26 deaths were recorded.

Sequel to the foregoing, as the United States approaches rising figures of about 200,000 deaths, the West seems largely blind to Africa’s successes. In recent weeks, headline writers seem to be doing their hardest to try to reconcile Western stereotypes about Africa with the reality of the low death rates on the continent. Moreover, the BBC came under fire for a since-changed headline and a tweet that read “Coronavirus in Africa: Could poverty explain mystery of low death rate?” The New York Post published an article with the headline, “Scientists can’t explain puzzling lack of coronavirus outbreaks in Africa.”

It seemingly infers their disappointing reactions to the low level of fatality recorded in the continent. While Black Americans have been disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and dying, Africa’s performance shows as quoted by a Kenyan anthropologist, “being a black person in this world doesn’t kill you, but being a black person in America clearly can.”

The pandemic outbreak has coincided with a global racial resurgence, challenging anti-Black racism and white supremacy. This should have been a moment for media outlets to challenge corrosive narratives about Africa and the idea that Africans are not capable of effective policy-making. 

We could be learning from the experiences that Africans and their governments have had with pandemics and viral diseases, including Ebola and AIDS.

Instead, the media has largely ignored the policy successes out of Africa. In doing so, Western media is reinforcing colonial narratives of Black inferiority and the inability of Black nations to govern themselves at all, much less govern better than resource-rich White nations.

Nonetheless, there has been some challenges and ill-steps taken on the continent. In countries like Kenya, police officers have used coronavirus restrictions as a cover to escalate police brutality against citizens, police killed 15 people while enforcing curfew restrictions. All, misinformation has pervasively spread online, complicating work for the frontline workers (health-care professionals).

Conclusively, African countries have made great efforts to flatten the curve of the deadly virus, and citizens so far have escaped the nightmare predictions. African lives have been saved thanks to the hard work of many dedicated health-care workers and the collective responsibility of communities.

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