Africa isn’t ready for a massive coronavirus outbreak. But the continent’s hot and humid weather may save it from the deadly disease.
- Africa isn’t ready for a massive coronavirus outbreak.
- African healthcare systems need to be developed more to be able to cope with modern challenges.
- The continent’s hot and humid weather may protect it from the coronavirus more than its governments ever could.
As the deadly Wuhan coronavirus spreads around the world, one continent is suspiciously absent from the statistics: Africa. It, along with South America, has recorded zero cases of the new disease despite its increasingly intimate links with China.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline, has greatly reduced it’s flights from China. As much as 1,500 passengers were arriving from China each day – many of whom go on to travel to other African countries for business and tourism. This reduction will help Ethiopian airlines prevent importing the coronavirus into the continent.
For Africa’s leaders, this would be a difficult scenario. But thankfully, the continent’s tropical weather may do a better job fighting the coronavirus than its governments ever could.
The Ebola Outbreak
Africa is no stranger to infectious disease. The continent was affected by the Ebola outbreak from 2014-16, which went on to infect 28,600 people.
Ebola was so deadly because of the unique conditions in Africa that made controlling it difficult. Africa is home to some of the poorest countries in the world. These nations are still improving their healthcare systems to handle a massive epidemic.
According to Oyewale Tomori, a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Nigeria isn’t ready to handle the coronavirus.
Tomori questions his government’s readiness, stating the following to Bloomberg:
If it (the coronavirus) comes, what next do you do? Do you have the isolation wards where you can keep the people? Do you have proper systems of monitoring? Do you have laboratory diagnostics for it? In each of these areas, I don’t think we are measuring up to par, and that is my worry.
Oyewale may be right.
Despite being Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria’s electrification rate is among the lowest in the world. Despite producing 1.7 million barrels of oil per day, it’s plagued with power cuts and blackouts – issues that make running a modern healthcare system impossible.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Ethiopian airlines to cancel flights to China. He states the following:
Our worry as a country is not that China cannot manage the disease. Our biggest worry is diseases coming into areas with weaker health systems like ours.
Thankfully, the world doesn’t have to rely on people like Kenyatta or Buhari to prevent the spread of coronavirus into Africa and the rest of the world. The weather may do a better job than they ever could. According to research, respiratory illnesses like the coronavirus have a hard time spreading in hot and humid weather.
Channel News Asia states the following:
Studies showed that the “regular” coronavirus (which is one of the causes of the common cold) can survive on surfaces 30 times longer in places with a temperature of 6 degrees Celsius compared to those where the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius and humidity levels are high.
Warm temperatures may also prevent the coronavirus from spreading to places like India, and may also lead to the end of the outbreak in China when warmer weather returns.
The continent’s warm and humid climate makes it harder to spread the winter-loving coronavirus. Healthcare infrastructure left over from the Ebola outbreak will help authorities contain any cases that do arise.