By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion, has confirmed 88,855 coronavirus cases, almost very close to the number of deaths (92,000) in all 50 US states. As the virus sweeps across Africa, three African countries now emerged as coronavirus-free and have been declared as such by the World Health Organization (WHO).
On May 20, Comoros Islands, Mauritius and Seychelles emerged as countries with the lowest figures. The figures further showed that South Africa, Algeria, and Nigeria had the highest reported cases in Africa.
According to the report, South Africa had 16,433 cases and 286 deaths followed by worst cases in Maghreb region of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, while Nigeria had 6,175 confirmed cases and 191 deaths.
It added that Ghana had 5,735 reported cases and 29 deaths, while Cameroon recorded 3,529 confirmed cases, and 140 deaths.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has, however, praised Africa’s “swift” response to the coronavirus pandemic, with reported cases much lower than initially feared.
He said in a statement, “Most (African countries) have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures.”
That the developed world could learn from Africa’s response, he added: “Most African governments and organizations took in time very brave prevention measures which provide a lesson for some developed nations that did not.”
Late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of the disease in the city of Wuhan in China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 by the WHO – have spread around the world.
WHO declared the outbreak as an international health concern only on 30 January, and then recognized it as a “pandemic” on 11 March.
On all the islands, small-scale agriculture that includes fishing, local industries such as retail markets were, more or less affected. More than 80% of people in rural areas depend on subsistence farming for survival; however, restrictions on market activities would limit market access.
Mauritius and Seychelles are favorite tourist posts, and have long-time close geopolitical relationship with India. Mauritius is a very small island and highly reliant on tourism. Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, reported its first two cases on 14 March. The Union of Comoros is an island nation to the east is Mozambique and northwest is Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
- Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent research writer and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa.
- Currently, Klomegah is a board member of the Regional Council on Development of Relations with Africa, an economic and trade policy organization created by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Moscow Region).