Africa's COVID-19 Cases Soar Past 88,000 As 'Coronavirus Apocalypse' Fears Loom

Africa’s COVID-19 Cases Soar Past 88,000 As ‘Coronavirus Apocalypse’ Fears Loom

By the first week of April, coronavirus cases in African topped 10,000. Now over a month later that number stands at 88,172 according to the CDC Africa dashboard.

This after a past 24-hour rise in cases by 2,538 according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa on Tuesday. Across the continent at least 2,834 people have died from COVID-19.

The outbreak first appeared in Egypt in mid-February via what’s believed sourced to foreign travelers, and has since spread to all 54 countries on the continent

Image via Reuters

Last month the WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, sounded the alarm in saying the pandemic in African looks to be potentially devastating: “COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths, but to also unleash economic and social devastation,” Moeti said.

The biggest clusters appear concentrated in those regions considered the busiest hubs of international and foreign travel, such as Egypt and Morocco in the north, and South Africa at the southern tip. 

However, the African continent is still nowhere near the ‘coronavirus apocalypse’ that many predicted (considering a total population of over 1.3 billion people), including for example Bill and Melinda Gates

In an April 10 interview with CNN, American philanthropist Melinda Gates expressed her belief that the coronavirus pandemic will have the worst impact in the developing world. She said she foresees bodies lying around in the street of African countries.

A day later, it was announced that the United States, where Gates is from, had surpassed Italy in terms of the number of dead from COVID-19.

…Clearly, despite the massive crisis the West is experiencing, some Western thought leaders continue to insist that a whole continent of 54 countries will collectively and inevitably experience apocalypse as a result of a virus outbreak. Indeed, the white gaze knows no rest, even amid a pandemic that has struck the West.

There exists a considerable difference between an informed fear and an uninformed assumption. Much of the conversation surrounding the potential impact of COVID-19 on Africa so far seems to have stemmed from the latter.

Gates is not the only one to be predicting total doom in Africa. A report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in April stated: “Anywhere between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19.”

Here’s a breakdown of where the disease is concentrated on the continent based on WHO numbers reported early Tuesday:

  • South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus cases (16,433) and a death toll of 286.
  • Egypt, where 12,229 people have been infected, accounts for the majority of deaths (630).
  • Algeria has reported 7,201 cases and 555 deaths 
  • Morocco has identified 6,930 coronavirus patients and recorded 192 deaths 
  • Sudan has so far confirmed 2,591 cases and 105 fatalities.
  • In the sub-Saharan region, Nigeria has reported 6,175 cases and 191 deaths.
  • The country is followed by Ghana (5,735 cases and 29 deaths) 
  • Cameroon (3,529 cases and 140 deaths) 
  • Guinea (2,796 cases and 16 deaths) 
  • Senegal (2,544 cases and 26 deaths)  
  • Ivory Coast (2,119 cases and 28 fatalities)
  • DRC has seen 1,455 cases recorded and 61 deaths

Like in other parts of the world, there’s likely a huge discrepancy between confirmed numbers based on testing availability and the reality on the ground. 

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Africa CDC dashboard for May 18:

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