Update: Fears that the coronavirus outbreak will be officially declared a global pandemic have grown after the first case was confirmed in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria’s health ministry said the case was found in Lagos, one of Africa’s biggest cities, with a population of 20 million people.
Africa has recorded only two cases up to now, one in Algeria and one in Egypt.
The spread of contagion to countries with poor public health systems has alarmed the World Health Organization, which said it could “get out of control”.
* * *
Surely it is time to stop pretending that in all of Africa there are only three cases of Coronavirus (1 in each of Algeria, Egypt, and Nigeria)? Everything we now know about the virus makes this virtually impossible to believe.
We know that despite alarm being expressed by other African nations, Ethiopia has continued to keep open its air link to China via Bole International airport. The Ethiopian authorities have justified their decision by quoting the WHO president’s ‘expert advice’ that travel bans were not going to stop the virus and therefore were not recommended. As reported by Global Research,
… he made the inexplicable statement that other countries were not warranted to ban air travel to China as precaution. He declared,” It’s not a time for judgment… This is a time for solidarity, not stigma,” refusing to recommend any international restrictions on travel or trade with China.
This seems very odd and ill-advised ‘expert advice’ when at the same time the official line is that while we may not be able to stop the spread of the virus we should strive to slow it down to give us as much time as possible to look for treatments and a vaccine.
What else do we know? Well we can see from recent events in Italy that the virus spreads very fast before anyone is likely to show any symptoms. We also know how easy it is for over-worked doctors to not pay enough attention to symptoms which on their own are not all that serious to begin with and could be the result of the common cold or ordinary strains of flu. The Corona virus does not present with the kind of dramatic symptoms that make it easy to spot.
We also know that the two things about this virus which makes it very dangerous and almost impossible to stop. The first is the very long, unusually long, suspiciously long latency period when someone can carry the virus and be highly infectious without showing any symptoms at all. The second is that Covid19 is easily transmitted and very highly infectious.
Despite having all the advantages of wealth and warning none of the best prepared, best off countries have been able to stop its spread. Is it believable that the Coronavirus is not already spreading in African countries?
If Coronavirus is spreading in Africa then everyday we hear no reports of it, is another day it is spreading unreported and untreated. Is this alarmist? I certainly hope so but common sense tells me its just tragically very likely.
The latency period before someone shows symptoms means that it is quite possible for someone to be carrying the virus but show no signs whatever when they arrive at the airport and are screened. If they did have the virus then given its infectivity it is highly probable that other passengers being in close contact in a sealed environment like a jet for many hours are going to be infected. None of them will show any symptoms when screened. How many of them will travel on to other airports, other cities other towns where there are fewer if any facilities for testing?
Could this scenario happen? Well we already have the case of a Chinese worker to flew into Kenya, who was not stopped or quarantined at the airport and travelled on to a road construction site in Kitui county outside Nairobi. Why was he not stopped? Well for the perfectly good reason that he was not showing any symptoms. The case came to light because when the man arrived at the construction site,
…road workers contracted by Sinohydro Corporation reported a case of a visibly sick Chinese national in their construction camp.
The Kenyan article went on to say that his colleagues were told to isolate him and observe him but not to come into contact with him.
The case made the papers in Kenya because when local police arrived at the camp they were denied admission by the Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation. It was also reported in the Kenyan press that a local medical team were also denied access.
Medics denied entry to Sinohydro Mutomo camp
Kitui County Chief Officer for Health Richard Muthoka confirmed that his medical team was also denied entry to the camp.
“Our medical team wasn’t allowed to access the Chinese camp in Mutomo but we have taken the necessary measures to swiftly establish what is happening and ensure all people working and mingling with the foreigners are safe,” Dr Muthoka stated.
Its interesting and important to note that an article in the ChinaDaily refuted the story the very same day. According to the Chinese article the man was not sick and his quarantine was routine. Which may well be true.
All this was 10 days ago. There has been no update that I can find. But whether the man was carrying the virus and was sick or whether it was all routine precaution is not really the point. Given the long latency of the virus we know from what has happened in Italy that the man could have been carrying and spreading the virus. Even if he was not how likely is it that no one entering Africa has been?
If I am in any way right, and I fervently hope I am not right, then all the headlines telling us how China getting its epidemic under control will not really matter from a global point of view. Of course it will be a huge triumph for China and I hope they succeed. But because the world seems to be turning a blind eye to what might be going on unreported in Africa, we could soon find that we have merely substituted one huge reservoir of infection for another. And Africa, unlike China is not going to be able to contain it.
In South Africa which is considered one of the African countries better equipped to deal with the virus this was the headline in The South African.
Coronavirus in Africa: Scare in Namibia, as SA hospital ‘not ready’ for cases
Tembisa hospital has been designated as one of the facilities where Cornoa virus victims would be quarantined and treated. The only problem is as the paper reports,
The 44-bed neo-natal unit is often overcrowded, and staff have previously complained about their working conditions, casting doubt over Tembisa’s ability to host coronavirus patients.
The report goes on,
Jack Bloom, the DA’s leader in Gauteng, is upset that this location was chosen as one of three Gauteng hospitals to house patients with the deadly disease:
“Tembisa Hospital has been identified as one of three hospitals in Gauteng that will treat coronavirus cases, but this hospital is severely overcrowded and is only just recovering from antibiotic-resistant klebsiella infections that caused the deaths of 10 babies.”
“Unlike the other two identified hospitals, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg and Steve Biko, there is simply no space at Tembisa Hospital to isolate coronavirus patients. It cannot be that Tembisa Hospital was chosen simply because it is near the OR Tambo airport where coronavirus-infected patients could enter the country.”
Rwanda health minister fired
Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame on Sunday … who was speaking at the National Leaders’ Retreat…accused several of them [ministers] including the ex-health minister Diane Gashumba of lying… to him about the availability of kits to test individuals for the deadly Coronavirus, Covid-19.
“One morning, I called one of the leaders and the Prime Minister about the Coronavirus and asked that they examine each one of us ahead of the Leader’s Retreat. I told them to tell the minister of health to ensure this.”
“She responded that we have 3,500 kits, and that using 400 of them to test leaders would seriously deplete the number of kits we have. …
“Later we discovered that we do not have the kits as she said. We have kits for only 95 people and not 3,500.
If the world stands by and allows the virus to spread in Africa then Africa will be the reservoir for the virus from then on. We will have a situation where every traveller, every migrant and refugee trying to enter Europe from Africa, arriving on beaches in Spain, Italy and Greece, will likely also be a carrier of the Corona virus. That is a situation that will turn very ugly very fast.
Ironic and horrible as it is to say, the only saving grace might be that the virus will have already become endemic in Europe before that happens.
So much for Africa and Europe. What of America? There too the virus is going to reveal ugly things that people don’t want to face up to. It is just a fact that America has third world levels of poverty and neglect in almost every city. What will happen when the virus gets into those forgotten populations? Will very crack head and meth tweeker self isolate for the public good? Or will they be driven by hunger and a desperate need for their fix to be out every day, sick or not, many turning tricks and all looking for a fix? How is that going to work?
Will America lavish upon those people a level of medical care that they have never given them before? Suddenly the people living in tents and under freeways, defecating on city streets because they have nowhere else, are they going to be given hospital beds and isolation units?
Lets suppose the FEMA camps are opened up. How is it going to work putting those people, the people we prefer to forget, in the same camp as your grandmother? Social cohesion?
This virus is acting like an x-ray in all our countries and what its showing is not pretty.