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Africa CDC Head Warns, COVID-19 ‘Is an Existential Threat for Our Continent’

April 9, 2020 (EIRNS)—Dr. John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated in a recent call with journalists that COVID-19 “is an existential threat for our continent. We have to win the battle against COVID in Africa in order to survive.... We cannot eliminate COVID in any country in the world if we still have it lingering in any part of the world.” He added that “global solidarity” was urgently required to defeat the pandemic.

An April 7 Yahoo News article which reported on Dr. Nkengasong’s comments, also noted that

“public health officials are raising the alarm that infection rates in Africa could soon boom, while also undermining international efforts to end the pandemic. Many are concerned that as cases increase, COVID-19 will make its way to vulnerable populations in war zones, slums and sprawling refugee camps across the continent.”

Princeton University Professor Jessica Metcalf is quoted saying that there is already a “tsunami of other infectious diseases” in Africa, such as malaria and AIDS, and that the result of adding COVID-19 into the mix could be catastrophic. “It’s likely to be one last straw that might break the camel’s back.”

Exemplary of the lack of health infrastructure across the region is the case of the Central African Republic, population 5 million, which has a grand total of three ventilators for the entire population.

The Imperial College of London, with its known Malthusian proclivities, published a study on March 26 which said that, if nothing were done to reduce the coronavirus spread, Sub-Saharan Africa, whose total population is 1.1 billion, could see 1 billion people infected, with close to 2.5 million deaths from COVID-19. If stringent measures are taken, such as testing, isolation of cases, widespread social distancing, then the infections could drop to “only” 110 million with 300,000 deaths.

But those are precisely the sort of measures that are impossible to implement under current economic and social conditions in Africa, and in fact most of the underdeveloped world. Alexandra Lamarche of Refugees International told Yahoo News, published April 7: “Lockdowns not only stymie the spread of the virus, but they also stop the flow of income, prevent people from reaching markets for vital supplies, and prohibit access to communal water points.” Social distancing and washing of hands are impossible for the some 50% of African urban dwellers who live in slums and lack running water. Massive projects for infrastructure, industrial, and agriculture must be launched immediately to address such problems, if COVID-19 is not to decimate the African continent.

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