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Africans blaming Europeans for coronavirus cases

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Mar 25, 2020 - 2:59:35 PM

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Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta slated March 21, 2020 as a “Day of Prayer” as the country turns to God to seek his intercession in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In South Africa, reported Al-Jazeera, two ladies met one evening to walk together to their church service in Troyeville, Johannesburg. “Now more than ever, they felt a need to pray,” said the article.

“People are scared,” said Moma Pinda, as she hurried up the hill. “We are chasing the coronavirus away in our prayer,” she added with a laugh.

The Los Angeles Times noted, “prayers and blessings are all well and good, but much more than that is obviously necessary.”

On social media, in countries such as Senegal where the virus recently arrived, many Africans voiced anger at Europeans, blaming them for importing coronavirus. Some saw it “as a continuation of historic victimization of Africa” by its former colonial masters, according to

Abiy Ahmed - Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

With about 30 African countries so far with recorded cases, governments are rolling out increasingly robust measures to halt the spread of the virus and to contain the pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives.

A day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a coronavirus support package for the entire continent, the donor in question, Chinese business mogul Jack Ma confirmed the donation with details, reported

“To combat the potential surging for demand for medical supplies and equipment in Africa, Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation will donate to each one of the 54 African nations 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks, and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields,” said the outlet.

“In addition, we will immediately start working with medical institutions in Africa to provide online training material for COVID-19 clinical treatment,” the group said, according to the article.

Supplies will be flown to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, home of the African Union, where Prime Minister Abiy agreed to lead logistics and disbursement efforts.

“Great appreciation to Jack Ma for partnering with Ethiopia to distribute 10-20k coronal (coronavirus) testing kits per country; more than 100k masks for each African country, and guideline books developed recently on how to treat patients with the virus,” the Ethiopian prime minister wrote in one of three tweets.

Addressing his nation, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa called “for a change of behavior amongst all South Africans.”

“Never before in the history of our democracy has our country been confronted with such a severe situation,” the South African president said, while declaring a national state of emergency.

By the speech’s end, and this is happening across the continent, “Suddenly, South Africans (are) jolted into action,” said Professor Mosa Moshabela, from the School of Nursing and Public Health of the University of Kwazulu Natal. “And this is good,” Moshabela told Al-Jazeera. He is convinced the country’s fighting chance against the virus is social distancing and precautious behavior.

Before the speech, South Africans, as with much of Africa, didn’t seem too concerned about the spread of coronavirus as the continent registered the lowest numbers of Covid-19 anywhere to be found. In South Africa a country of 59 million had only registered just a few dozen cases, all of which, like other African countries involved international travelers.

A month after Egypt confirmed its first coronavirus case on Feb. 14, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, reported, announced the closure of schools and universities. He also announced that the government would allocate $6.3 billion to deal with any possible repercussions of coronavirus. The country stepped up its preventative measures as it faced its sixth fatality. As of March 18, the number of confirmed cases in the country of over 102 million reached 196.

University of Toronto researchers suggest that the number, in a tourism driven economy, could be much higher.

“Using the airline data and exported case data, as well as some information on the average length of tourists stay in the region, we estimate an outbreak size of about 19,000 cases—with a confidence interval of 6,000-45,000,” Ashleigh Tuite, specialist of Division of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto, told

Egypt’s expulsions of journalists, because of bad press concerning coronavirus, is a concern for many.

In many Western publications, Africa is presented as unable, on its own, to handle a coronavirus outbreak.

A Washington Post perspective written by Phillip Carter III, a former AFRICOM official, now a senior fellow at the Population Institute, does much to denigrate Africa’s health care system without ever mentioning assistance from China and Africa’s own response to the pandemic. Even with China appearing to get a handle on its coronavirus outbreak, popular news shows like MSNBC’s Morning with Joe, have condemned China instead of learning from China. Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough actually spent one morning blaming China, saying the U.S. should look at China’s research for “putting us” in this condition “in the first place.”

Carter suggests Chinese traveling to Africa are part of the problem, instead of saying the initial documented carriers of the coronavirus in Africa came from Europe. He then suggests Africa could become the harbinger of future pandemics.

Crystal Cimeoni, the Economic Justice lead at FEMNET, one of Africa’s largest women’s rights networks, wrote an opinion piece republished several times, “Why Nigeria Knows Better How to Fight Corona Than the U.S.” She takes Western insensitivities and analysis to task and much of what Nigeria learned came from tackling the Ebola crisis.

Cimeoni complained of shortsighted Western interventions like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focus on vertical interventions such as their work on malaria, which does little to ensure there is a holistic approach to health care.

She argues for more focused preventative measures with a “focus on the general wellbeing a community—making it harder for disease to spread rapidly.”

“Nigeria therefore understands the importance of strengthening systems that regard public health as connected with any other facet of life. Equally important is surveillance, airport and border screening. Taking people’s temperatures, asking about travel history and questions related to the symptoms of the disease, a question that the U.S. is yet to learn,” she wrote. Nigeria with its 200 million population currently has three confirmed coronavirus cases. With one discharged after recovery.

And though Africa is still far behind Europe and Asia in total numbers of Covid-19 cases, according to the, the disease has reached about half of Africa. “Algeria has 48 confirmed cases, Egypt 110, while SA has 62,” the World Health Organizations reported recently. Somalia, Liberia and Tanzania registered their first cases most virus carriers in African countries were in single digits at Final Call presstime.

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