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Experts baffled by so few coronavirus cases in Africa

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Mar 18, 2020 - 1:42:42 PM

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Experts are baffled as to why there are so few cases of Africans infected with the strain of the coronavirus COVID-19. And this, according to, is despite China—where the virus originated—“ being the continents top trading partner and the continent having a population of 1.3 billion.”

In early March, Africa officially reported just 95 official cases with Togo and Cameroon reporting two cases.

“It will always be possible to miss cases and that’s always been admitted in the UK,” says Mark Woolhouse at the University of Edinburgh, UK. But due to the heightened awareness of the virus on the continent and the lack of coronavirus-linked deaths, he says implies there aren’t big undetected outbreaks. “If there were major outbreaks, of the scale that Italy or Iran have had, anywhere in Africa, I would expect those deaths to be well above the radar by now.”


One question that is picking up steam is why are Chinese being pointed out as carriers of the virus, and told they should be avoided, as they were by a Kenyan member of parliament, when its Europeans who first brought the virus to the continent?

Causing Chinese working in different parts of Africa discomfort, as is happening in Kenya, may have more to do with the Kenyan government borrowing substantial sums of money from China for infrastructure projects and the average Kenyan not feeling any benefit.

The first coronavirus contact actually came from an Italian. reported Nigeria’s health commissioner Akin Abayomi saying that they’ve contacted roughly 100 persons who may have interacted with the Italian businessman.

“The salesman of cement company Lafarg Africa PLC arrived in Nigeria’s economic metropolis, Lagos, on February 24 by plane from Milan. He is being treated in a hospital in the Yaba district of Lagos,” said the health commissioner.

Democratic Republic of Congo Minister of Health Eteni Longondo recently confirmed the first positive case of coronavirus in the DRC and maybe the second on the continent was a European from Belgium. He was examined after arriving in the DRC.

Practically all the cases in Africa that involve foreigners are citizens returning from Europe, reported

The African Union’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. John Nkengasong said “… there are about 102 cases in 10 African countries, with one death.” He listed the affected countries as Algeria, Burkina Faso. Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

Explaining some of the actions taken by the Africa CDC he said, “Africa CDC has distributed testing kits capable of testing over 10,000 people, purchasing more emergency medical items including test kits, thermal scanners and other critical medical supplies and stockpiling them to meet the request from member states.”

Forty-three out of the 55 African countries “now have the capacity to test for the virus and have supplies for test kits,” Dr. Nkengasong in addition said.

Other responses to the coronavirus include the Ministers of Health from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“A problem shared is a problem halved. SADC countries need to share the capacities available to them as much as possible—nationally and regionally,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “As we have seen with other health emergencies, there is a lot of expertise in the region. If countries have capacities in a particular area, they can support their neighbors.”

Dr. Devanand Moonasar, Acting Chief Director for Communicable Diseases at South Africa’s National Health Department, said the unified approach taken by China presented a valuable lesson for Africa, especially around the value of a skilled workforce, dedicated resources and efficient and transparent data reporting and sharing practices. “I think that China’s efforts in lowering the numbers in the way that they did is quite remarkable and should be lauded,” said Dr. Moonasar.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “it feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control.” Cook said during an interview with Fox Business, “You look at the numbers, they’re coming down day by day by day. I’m very optimistic there.”

The New York Times confirmed Cook’s response. “The number of new cases reported has fallen dramatically in recent days even as infections are surging in other countries. The WHO has praised Beijing’s response,” said the Times.

“Officials reported only 99 new cases on Saturday, down from around 2,000 a day just weeks ago, and for the second day in a row, none were detected in Hubei Province of its capital, Wuhan, the center of the outbreak.”

Even though it’s been reported in the Cuban press and in other online publications, no one in U.S. corporate run news media is talking about treatments China is using to treat victims of the coronavirus. According to, “The Cuban drug Recombinant Interferon alfa 2b is one of 30 drugs selected to fight the coronavirus COVID-19.”

It is the same treatment then Nation of Islam Health Minister Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad helped develop and used in the 1990s to treat patients with HIV.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is now well over 4,000, with more than 110,000 confirmed cases, the WHO reported.

Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers, has reported the coronavirus has spread to more than 115 countries and territories, including 7,513 in South Korea, 9,172 in Italy, 7,513 in Iran, 530 in Japan, 1,412 in France, 729 in the U.S. and 321 in the UK.

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