COVID-19: Perspectives and Reflections from Africa

This classic editorial was written by the Editorial team of African Journal of Reproductive Health headed by the highly esteemed (EiC) Prof. Friday E. Okonofua. In their own words: the COVID-19 has emerged as one of the most traumatic pandemics in contemporary times with implications not only for morbidity and mortality of humans, but for the overall economic survival of the entire planet.

Beginning in Wuhan in China in December 2019, the virus has now spread throughout the entire world, with sub-Saharan African countries bearing considerable brunt. Till date (March 31, 2020), nearly 750, 890 cases of COVID-19 have been reported world-wide, with 36, 405 reported deaths, representing a case fatality rate of 4.9% globally1 . However, there are countries such as Italy and Spain, with case fatality rates rising to nearly 10% or more1. By contrast, over the same period, African countries have reported 3, 786 cases of the virus, with 77 deaths, for a case-fatality rate of 2%. Indeed, the deaths in African countries currently represent 0.21% of the total deaths recorded globally from the pandemic1 . Even within the African continent, it is noteworthy that the virus appears to be predominant in some of the most prosperous countries that are the most pre-eminent destinations for tourists and industrialists from outside the continent. To date, countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have borne the highest rates of infections and related deaths in the continent1.

However, it is not yet time for euphoria for the African continent. Being an ―imported‖ virus, it will take some time before the virus finds root in the innermost parts of the continent. It is also likely that the low figures of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa may be a reflection of limited population testing. No doubt, the current lock-downs in most African countries and in sub-national parts within countries would likely do the trick in preventing new infections from coming in. But while the lock-downs will have the benefit of reducing deaths and disability from the virus, it will have severe negative consequences for Africa‘s economy. With many countries already in economic dips, the lock-downs and reduced economic activities due to the virus will further diminish the economic growth of many African countries.