COVID-19 Regional Safety Assessment
Officially, more than 50% of cases in Africa are recorded in the South African Republic, though it has a less risky profile thanks to much more efficient governance and quarantine. Other countries with large numbers of cases typically are more developed ones located in the western half of the continent, abundant with natural resources and consequently the site of major cities with large conurbations, which don’t always even have access to necessary facilities not to mention affordable and qualitative medicine. Taking into account dependency on informal SMEs that lack official support, strict but not always logical approaches to prohibitions, and usually inefficient economics, COVID-19 is sure to leave some states with clear long-lasting effects. Another risk factor is low penetration of ICT, low diversification and lack of access to sanitation facilities, especially in rural areas. It is worth mentioning that despite the fact that Africa has the lowest number of cases, theirs has amounted to more than 1 million as of August, 16 and the rate of growth would be much higher than the rest of the world even if the available information is true, which is apparently it is not.
Nonetheless, in Africa the main variation in distribution of cases is between large central inland states and small island states. The latter have the lowest number of cases: Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe. These small island states, including Seychelles, have 0% of fatal cases ratio and 99% recovery, which an unprecedented kind of result for Africa and among the best in the world, although they rely somewhat on their isolated status, and the data on these places is forever threadbare owing to their disinterest in gathering sharing their healthcare data globally. Furthermore there are only 100 thousand inhabitants. The population of Mauritius is 1.2 million and the recovery there is 97%, which is also a lot. There are other countries and territories which are located on the continent and have fewer cases, including bigger ones. However, statistics from Africa are not very reliable. Reliable, comprehensive and precise information is required for more efficient work, by governmental and municipal authorities and local medics, and also international development institutions and NGOs. Despite the concerns about data, the threat of humanitarian crisis in Africa is becoming more and more apparent and not only in terms of healthcare. Insecurity, poor healthcare systems, corrupt governance and other severe risks create additional unfavorable conditions and barriers to fighting COVID-19.
There are two African countries included in the very short list of recommendations of the European Commission regarding lifting travel restrictions - namely, Tunisia and Rwanda. Tunisia, although located between the two other countries in Northern Africa that are among those with the largest number of total cases (Algeria and Morocco), registered much lower total cases. Although it has increased during the first half of August and these countries have registered around 2-2.5 thousand cases now.
It is especially necessary to revise statistics for cases per 1 million in countries where there are very few official cases, but a relatively high mortality rate (especially given the small proportion of the elderly population) against the background of a weak institutional environment and humanitarian problems. Also questionable are statistics in those large countries where the official minimum number of cases per 1 million people is registered.
There are many countries listed above and they constitute the main population of the central, eastern and southern part of the continent, comprising Chad, Niger, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo et al. In the most populous Kenya, Nigeria and especially Ethiopia, the extremely low recovery rate is also questionable, despite the fact that the official number of cases is not significant in absolute and relative terms, and mortality is at a low level.
Based on the official statistics, it was largely possible to reduce the momentum of new cases (if we compare the periods from May 15 to June 30 vs from July 1 to Aug, 16) for such countries as DRC, Mauritania, Gabon, Sudan, Cameroon and Cote D'Ivoire, Nigeria, and to almost stall growth in Ghana. At the same time, countries appear where more and more cases are registered with an increase of 5 times or more (up to 20-40 times) in the compared periods - these are Namibia, Gambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Zambia.