Bruce Bassett, a data scientist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, once said: My concern is that we have a ticking time bomb.
This bomb has exploded.
According to data from the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 25, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa exceeded 810,000 (more than 10,000 of which were medical staff), the cumulative deaths exceeded 17,000, and the cumulative total cured more than 460,000 cases. The rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in Africa is worrying, and the WHO even expressed “shock” at this.
Among them, the most severely affected is South Africa, with over 430,000 confirmed cases, accounting for half of the confirmed cases in Africa, ranking fifth in the world.
Among the top five confirmed cases in the world, apart from the first United States, the rest are BRIC countries other than China. (Source: Johns Hopkins University, USA)
In response, Michael Ryan, the head of WHO's emergency projects, issued a warning: The rise in cases in South Africa may be a harbinger of an outbreak across the African continent.
Looking back at the beginning of the global outbreak, the situation in Africa is not too bad. On February 14, the first confirmed case appeared in Africa. 16 days later, the number of confirmed cases reached 100, and after another 10 days, the number of confirmed cases reached 1,000.
The WHO explained that this may have something to do with the average age per capita in Africa. Africa is the youngest continent in terms of demographics. The population under the age of 25 accounts for more than 60% of the total population.
Of course, it is also related to the active prevention and control of African countries at the beginning. At the beginning of the epidemic, African countries took decisive measures to close borders, cancel flights, ban gatherings, and close schools, etc., to minimize the spread of the epidemic.
But Africa still failed to escape this disaster. Just as the African-born WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus said in March, Africa must be prepared for the worst.
On April 17, the report of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa predicted that more than 122 million people will be infected, with a maximum of 1.2 billion; even under the most optimistic scenario, 300,000 people will die in Africa this year, and the worst may be Up to 3.3 million, and it is possible that 5 to 29 million people will fall into extreme poverty.
Currently, Africa has reported more than 810,000 confirmed cases. In fact, this data is likely to be seriously underestimated. As of July 12, in Africa's most developed South Africa, only 36 out of every 1,000 people had been tested; in Nigeria, the number was only 0.9. In the United States and the United Kingdom, 122 and 106 out of every 1,000 people were tested.
Even some countries in Africa have stopped updating the diagnosis data. For example, Tanzania stopped publishing infection data for the new crown epidemic at the end of April; at the beginning of June, President Magufuli announced that there was no new crown virus. Behind this extreme behavior was its despair and helplessness in the epidemic.
Once the epidemic in Africa spreads rapidly, the consequences will be disastrous. We all know that the most basic measures for epidemic prevention and control are to wash hands frequently, wear masks, and maintain social distancing. These three most daily things have become a luxury in the slums of Africa.
For example, washing hands frequently is not a question of habit, but a question of water supply. According to statistics, there are currently about 258 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who do not have tap water to wash their hands, and even the source of drinking water is seriously inadequate. For example, Senegal, which has a better economy in West Africa, has maintained an annual GDP growth rate of 6% for more than 5 consecutive years, but 52% of rural households still have neither soap nor water.
Africa's medical resources are extremely scarce, medical staff is in short supply, ventilators are also in short supply, and intensive care beds are even scarce resources.
When the first death in the African continent occurred in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean authorities confessed that they did not have a ventilator to save the patient. Sub-Saharan Africa has the fewest doctors per capita. For example, in Zambia, only one doctor can be assigned to every 10,000 people. According to the WHO, in most African countries, there are only about 5 intensive care beds per million people, which is 4000 in Europe.
In addition to the new crown pneumonia, many people in Africa are also suffering from Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. On June 1, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in West Africa announced that a new round of Ebola had been confirmed in the country.
To make matters worse, as the epidemic spread rapidly, some African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Rwanda began to gradually unblock them in April-May.
In short, responding to the new crown pneumonia epidemic is a common challenge facing all mankind, and public health security is a common issue that the world should strive to solve. No country can deal with the various challenges facing humanity alone, and no country can retreat to a self-enclosed island.
As UN Secretary-General Guterres said, “Although the epidemic was not triggered by Africa, Africa may suffer the most serious consequences. Only when Africa wins the fight against the epidemic can it completely end the global epidemic”.