In the wake of COVID-19 all over the world, a pandemic as declared by World Health Organization(WHO) African leaders are clearly not ready to combat this virus and how fast it is growing.
Africa is not ready for a massive outbreak of coronavirus but the continents weather may actually save it from the deadly disease. That will not be the political leaders or religious leaders doing but natures beautiful way of making us sweat.
African citizens must stand up and fight for their own safety. Measures have been discussed to help combat this virus. But with people now infected with the virus like Idris Elba who didn’t even show symptoms of this virus is alarming and worrying. Clearly, the developed countries are not better prepared and worse can be said of developing countries.
We live in strange times and it is worrying to the point that many feel the world is already at a standstill; the end is here. Well the end isn’t here yet. In the days of SARS a rate of 10% death rise did not even call for the world to be at a standstill.
Corona Virus is being touted as a very serious matter because the youth of today are clearly not ready for this fright. The issue of staying indoors; schools closed, public gatherings limited, social distancing encouraged etc is proving to be a menace and a very fearful situation for the millennials. They didn’t have to feel the pressures of SARS so yes this is scary and frightening.
What is a corona virus? A corona virus is a flu-like virus, a common virus to that effect causing infections to the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. The thing about corona viruses is that they aren’t dangerous. Corona Viruses were first discovered in the 1960’s (ops! The birth year of my beloved mother) but nobody knows where they come from. There isn’t any concrete evidence as to it’s development. The name is coined from their crown-like shape. The funny thing about corona viruses is that they actually infect animals as well and not just humans.
Most coronaviruses spread in the same way that cold spread. That is, people get infected through infected people coughing and sneezing, touching and they are even faster in spreading through constant droplets. You can get a corona virus if you touch anything, doorknobs, tables, things that infected people have touched. Truth be told, almost everyone gets infected at least once in their life, most likely as a young child.
The severe coronavirus outbreak is what we have today. The COVID-19 which started early this year,2020 after China announced its outbreak in their country. The WHO identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus(2019-nCoV), which can be fatal as reported by Web-MD.
The WHO named this a very severe problem since it causes acute respiratory syndrome and the name tagged on this virus is SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME CORONAVIRUS 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and named the disease it causes COVID-19.
In the last months China have suffered its effect, with their citizens dying at a rapid rate and their economy falling drastically. They lied to the world about it and covered it up by silencing whistleblowers. Now, the outbreak has moved quickly from China around the world. Italy is now the leading nation with majority infected persons who are dropping dead by the day. Spain has recorded a total of 1000 deaths in 24 hours. In Africa, the rate is not so high but it is rising as many African countries confirm new cases each day. So far no deaths have been reported in Africa.
The archives shows that in 2003, 774 people died from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). And as of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of this infection.
What are the symptoms of Coronaviruses, COVID-19?
The symptoms come in the likeness of the common cold. Other people do not even show the symptoms but are testing positive of this infection. The symptoms shown includes runny nose, coughing, sore throat, and sometimes a fever. I’m severe cases, difficulty in breathing and lungs choked. Be careful to run a test when you notice any of the above symptoms because in most cases, you won’t know whether you have a corona virus or just a common cold virus such as rhinovirus( plenty viruses dey the world inside)
The spread of the infection if not controlled will cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease, or people with weakened immune systems.
Is Africa ready?
African nations are not experiencing a high rate of infection as compared to Asia, China precisely where at least 700 people died with more than 30000 confirmed cases around the world.
African healthcare systems and leadership are not developed enough for modern challenges.
After the WHO declared this a global pandemic, many Africa nations failed to treat this as an urgent matter. Yet still there is no serious business being discussed about this virus. The borders of African nations linking one nation to the other were left unchecked. People were flying in and out without consideration of the virus being brought into the country.
Nigeria first reported a case of this virus, only to report again that their tested negative. Then followed the others and in Ghana (my beloved nation) two cases were reported. After this confirmed cases, Ghana left its borders still unchecked inciting a student and other 3 people into the country with coronavirus raising the number to 6 confirmed cases. As you read this, many planes keep flying over our heads. In our hideouts from coronavirus, we hear the sound of planes dancing and singing over our heads. Ghana is not ready. Africa is not ready.
As of middle of February, Egypt had confirmed its first case.
Rwanda shut shop and declared a state of emergency. Thumbs up to HE Nana Akuffo Addo who did same even before Rwanda took action. But Ghana is it ready.
WHO chief Tesoro’s Adhanom Ghebreyesus(yie edin nu wa papa) who is from Ethiopia (An African leads the WHO isn’t that marvelous) said the main reason why they declared this virus a global pandemic is not because of what China was experiencing but because of what is happening in other countries. The greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems. In Africa, it is doubtful. We are not certain if we have a strong health system. In truth, the health systems in Africa is struggling with the existing workload and thus cannot deal with another outbreak of a highly infectious disease.
South Africa and Senegal were the only countries stationed with laboratories which had the reagents needed to test samples. They had been working as referrals for countries around the region. Now I believe every other African country can boast of a laboratory with Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone having announced that they can also conduct tests. In Ghana, a special unit for coronavirus patients is still undisclosed( for safety reasons claims the Ministry of Information)
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, through his foundations is sending many test kits, nose masks, gloves and all health needed items to Africans and beyond in aid of charity to contain the coronavirus spread. Thank you osikani abrante pa.
As good news as it may sound, the ability of African nations to prroperly diagnose cases “depends on the new reagents being made available from China and Europe” says Dr. Yao who is WHO’s head of emergency operations in Africa. He did note that some countries in Africa “have the minimum to start with- they are not starting from scratch”.
But did you know that in Ghana, a report sent to the WHO indicated that the first two patients tested negative? But the Information Minsiter said “if you think we are lying about coronavirus patients we will take you to them so you can go and hug them and see if we are telling lies or not”
While we are still unsure and uncertain about all of the information being thrown at us, we will take the positives from the fact that many African countries are already screening passengers arriving from other countries at ports just as was done during the Ebola outbreak.
Trade and Migration between Africa and China, comes to a halt. As well as the presence of more than 800,000 Chinese nationals on the continent allows for every African country to be ready to fight the coronavirus spread. Because it will appear and that is the reality of its effect.
Amy S. Patterson in her Washington Post mentioned that through her research in Africa on the politics of health sheds light on how trust, power and the actions of African governments and communities could shape a future response to the virus. The problem touted is that the citizens do not trust the health systems and that affects the response negatively.
Amy S. Patterson’s research in Ghana particularly showed that patients may question medical approaches to health issues with “unseen” causes such as mental health disorders. A lack of confidence in public health services is one reason people with chronic conditions such as mental health disorders delay seeking care. The people tend to trust traditional or religious leaders than government officials (enti Ghana fuor you do aaa make white woman see say you people dey make everything spiritual. Asem be ba dabi!) This pattern she noted, could present a challenge with COVID-19, if distrust leads citizens to discount public health authorities.
I personally can confirm through medofo that there are long queues in public health organizations with people eager to test for the coronavirus. A queue frustrating that for hours people had not been tested and this is bad. Should anyone in that queue have the virus, he or she can easily pass it on to another and through to all. Africa is not ready and even our readiness is struggling with itself.
In Africa, health, education, and employment is the people’s priority. If an outbreak occurs and governments are not prepared, however, there will be a political backlash. The people are only interested in their survival and are hungry for the above mentioned priorities.
We want the government to be responsive. To be ready and devoted to the cause of action- to come to the rescue otherwise the backlash will mean little as the populace will only drop dead and the voters register will be bogus, the “4 more for Nana” will be only a twitter trend, the Mahama fight will be overshadowed and thus the competition to provide the people with better health care, education, employment will only be remembered as CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.
We must heed to Amy S. Patterson’s call. As global institutions prepare for what inevitably maybe more COVID-19 cases in Africa, recognizing the ability of African community groups and governments to act will be key to a successful and collaborative response.
Africa must stand proud of its weather. Hot and humid as it is, may spare us from coronavirus infection. We have lucked out this time. The coronavirus likes a winter. It loves a cold place and Africans hot and humid climate makes it harder to spread the COVID-19.
However, this must wake our African leaders up from their slumber and reluctance. We are far behind. Even Wuhan, a developed city, could not handle this. One day when our weather cannot safe us, we won’t be able to survive it. We must lay down the foundation now for modern healthcare systems. This is a wake up call to all African leaders. YOU MUST DO BETTER. No more excuses.
Ghana remains on the list of WHO’s top country priorities to combat the coronavirus and the government of Ghana must embrace their efforts to help and develop modern healthcare infrastructure to battle not only today’s pandemic but future ones as well.
God bless Africa, God bless Mother Ghana
Credit and Reference; TheBIGTRENDIN, The Washington Post, WHO, Africa China Economy, CDC, WEB-MD