By Elite Reporter
The United Nation (UN) has projected that at least 300,000 are people likely to die from Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Africa this year in ‘best-case scenario’.
According to a recent report from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), besides the 300,000 deaths, up to 29 million could be pushed into extreme poverty.
Although Africa has reported fewer than 20,000 Coronavirus cases so far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the continent could see as many as 10 million cases in three to six months – a number which would severely overwhelm health services.
“To protect and build towards our shared prosperity at least USD100Bn (£80Bn) is needed to immediately resource a health and social safety net response,” the report by UNECA said.
The agency found that in the total absence of interventions to slow the spread of the virus more than 1.2 billion Africans would be infected and 3.3 million people would die this year.
However, it should be noted most African governments, including that of Uganda, have already introduced some social distancing measures, ranging from curfews and travel guidelines in some countries to full lockdowns in others.
However, even in a best-case scenario, in which governments introduce strict social distancing once a threshold of 0.2 deaths per 100,000 people per week is reached, Africa would still see about 123 million infections, 2.3 million hospitalisations and 300,000 deaths from COVID-1919.
Efforts to control the Coronavirus, which has already put major strain on well-funded healthcare systems in Europe, will be complicated because 36 per cent of Africans have no access to household washing facilities.
The continent also has just 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 5.98 beds per 1,000 people in France and Spain, which have since been adversely affected by the Pandemic.
Although Africa’s young demographic could provide some relief, as COVID-19 has been found to be less severe for young people in general, many people in the continent are also vulnerable to the disease due to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malnutrition.
In addition, 56 per cent of the urban population is concentrated in overcrowded slums, where the virus could spread easily.
The report added that Africa imports 94 per cent of its pharmaceuticals and at least 71 countries have banned or limited exports of certain supplies deemed essential during the pandemic, which is bound to worsen the situation for most African countries.
“In a best-case scenario … USD44Bn (£35Bn) would be required for testing, personal protective equipment, and to treat all those requiring hospitalisation,” the report said.
However, Africa is unlikely to be able to produce that level of funding as the continent’s economy could shrink by up to 2.6 per cent due to the pandemic.
“We estimate that between 5 million and 29 million people will be pushed below the extreme poverty line of USD1.90 (£1.50) per day owing to the impact of COVID-1919,” UNECA said.
Nigeria alone could lose between USD14Bn (£11.2Bn) and USD19.2Bn (£15.4Bn) in revenues from oil exports this year, while the prices of other African commodities exports have plummeted as well.
Lockdowns in Europe and the US will also affect Africa by threatening USD15Bn (£12Bn) in annual textile and apparel exports as well as damaging its tourism sector, which accounts for 8.5 per cent of Africa’s GDP.
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