Reading the news headlines regarding the potential of the coronavirus spreading in Africa, you might think that western news outlets are hoping that the African continent will be devastated by this pandemic.
Take for example, this Fox News headline, “Experiencing rising coronavirus numbers, Africa’s poor, rural not ready for coming crisis” or Science Magazine’s synopsis “‘A ticking time bomb’: Scientists worry about coronavirus spread in Africa.”
Africa has its challenges but it is well on its way to preventing the war on health with the Human coronavirus or COVID-19, despite the many presumptions by western media outlets. In reality, the spread of COVID-19 has been relatively slow in Africa.
The main countries exposed are Egypt, Senegal and South Africa, where most patients recently traveled to Europe. African countries are utilizing innovation, accepting donations and enforcing stricter travel bans on European nations to prevent the spread of the virus.
Over the past decade, Africa has had its shares of health pandemics such as Cholera (2009), Measles (2019) and Ebola (2019+). However, it should be noted that many people in Africa have survived these pandemics and learned valuable lessons through the testimonies of their experiences.
Some who have lived through health pandemics have made it their mission to fight against disease and uplift humanity, people such as Dr. Nnaemeka Ndodo.
Thanks to African scientists like Ndodo and other allies, we can be more confident Africa will have the strategies and resources to fight the coronavirus.
Ndodo, a molecular bio-engineer from Nigeria, has been working on the Coronavirus for over a month and worked many sleepless nights to help aid six Chinese workers suspected to be infected with the virus. That experience was long and grueling for Ndodo, the medical team, and the patients.
The Nigerian doctor had to collect samples from a hospital an hour away and wait 6 hours to get lab results because there are only five laboratories in the whole country of Nigeria.
Traditionally, diagnostics testing for COVID-19, called PCR Tests, cost around $400 and takes several hours to complete.Thankfully Ndodo has teamed up with Mologic Ltd, a Senegalese Research Foundation to create a cheaper and time-efficient diagnostics test. Ndodo and partners have found a way to shorten the lab wait time to 10 minutes and reduce the cost to $1 to help the continent cope with the pandemic.
Although this is an amazing advancement, Africa still needs to find a way to give its rural and poorer countries access to COVID-19 testing. Eighteen countries, or 30 percent of African nations, don’t have proper access to resources that can prevent this disease.
Thankfully African leaders like, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, are thinking about preventative measures.Ethiopian PM Ahmed partnered with Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to donate a total of 1.1 million testing kits, six million masks, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields.
That translates to over half a billion COVID-19 tests and 5.4 million masks. This could create a huge impact on preventing the spread of the disease.
In addition, many African nations have enforced stricter travel bans on travelers to and from European nations where the spread of the virus has been more profound.
According to AfricanNews.com, “almost all African governments have publicly put in place strict screening at points of entry, especially airports. Cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal and Nigeria. African airlines have cancelled scheduled flights to China except for Ethiopian Airlines.”
On Sunday, South Africa’s government imposed travel bans after confirming 61 cases of coronavirus in the country. President Cyril Ramaphosa declared that visas would be cancelled and previously granted visas would be revoked in regards to exposed nations.
The travel ban will come into effect tomorrow. The countries included are Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the U.S., the U.K. and China.
As of March 15, Ghana has a total of six coronavirus cases and announced a travel ban for people traveling from countries with 200 or more coronavirus cases. In Kenya, president Uhuru Kenyatta revealed that two COVID-19 new cases had been confirmed on Sunday.
The Kenyan government has implemented a travel ban and a ban on public gatherings.
According to Chief Scientific Officer, Patrick Vallance, “Rapid testing is going to be key to managing this outbreak, but ultimately vaccines are going to provide the long-term protection we need.”
Cheaper and faster diagnostic tests, travel bans and restricting social gatherings appears to be the overall strategy of African nations in an effort to prevent the spreading of this COVID-19 disease. Let’s pray this strategy and The Most High’s grace will prevent people in the motherland and around the world from suffering from this fast spreading and deadly disease.
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