Why is Africa so little affected by Covid-19? The African continent represents 17% of the world population and only 4% of cases. Out of 1.2 billion inhabitants, there are two million people infected according to official figures and 47,000 deaths, or as many as in France alone. So what’s the explanation? Absence of tests, collective immunity, youth of the population, strict control? Is there also a second wave in Africa and political controversies? This week we are taking you to Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt and Burkina Faso.
In Tunisia, we are living in a paradoxical situation. In the spring, total containment had been decreed, the streets were absolutely deserted while there were only a few dozen additional Covid-19 cases each day. Today, the curve is very alarming: 1,200 cases of Covid-19 are declared every day. The situation is absolutely critical and is deteriorating. The hospitals are overwhelmed. Still, life pretty much follows its course. The State would like, from a health point of view, to be able to decree a new confinement, except that it is absolutely untenable from an economic point of view. The government had committed to paying compensation last spring in two installments. Today, the most deprived, those who were entitled to them, are still waiting for them.
In Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, there are 19 million inhabitants and less than 70 dead from Covid-19. The country faces another major problem, terrorism, but that does not prevent it from being vigilant in the face of the epidemic. On arrival at the airport, a PCR test is required from passengers as well as the compulsory wearing of a mask. But in the streets of Ouagadougou, the mask, even if it is compulsory, is not worn because it is difficult: it is hot. If we move outside Ouagadougou, as in Kaya, it is still asked to put it as often as possible because there are 300,000 displaced people here, people who fled their village to come and take refuge in Kaya, because of insecurity.
In Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent with nearly 200 million inhabitants, there are around a thousand deaths. But the economic situation is more worrying than the Covid-19 for a majority of Nigerians. Faced with a significant drop in its oil revenues since April, the State is facing cash flow problems and the authorities have had to take measures, in particular by removing part of the historic subsidies on the price of oil at the pump . An increase in gasoline prices that is part of a context of generalized inflation: it is currently close to 14%. However, according to economists at the World Bank, nearly 80% of Nigerians have recorded a drop in their income since the start of the health crisis, while unemployment is reaching peaks among young people who make up half of the population. Currently, 100 million people live in extreme poverty, a situation further exacerbated by the global pandemic.
In Egypt, which has 100 million inhabitants and there are 6,500 deaths from Covid-19 according to official figures. But then again, there are few tests and it is difficult to have reliable figures. Still, the second wave is here and it strikes doctors in particular: more than 200 deaths during the past week alone. The doctors’ union demands special recognition for the doctors who died in this war on the virus – it calls them “martyrs of the white army” – so that the care of their families is aligned with that of the families of the police and military personnel who died in the war on terror. Their children would, for example, be exempt from university fees. The demands of the doctors’ union found some echo in public opinion. This is not the first time since the start of the pandemic that the union has stepped up to the plate for denouncing the lack of masks and the dangers taken by caregivers, several of its members have been arrested. Since then, as a sign of appeasement, an increase in doctors’ salaries has been announced. Not sure that’s enough to calm their anger.