In contrast to other continents like Asia, Europe, and America, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is lower in Sub-Sahara Africa.
COVID-19 came like a shock and spread globally, affecting global trade, tourism, financial flows, the health sector, and all aspects of human endeavor.
On the 14th of February, 2020, the first COVID-19 case in Africa happened in Egypt since its discovery in December 2019 at Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Despite the prediction that Africa will suffer more from the pandemic because of its proximity and trade relationship with China, it is still shocking that the reverse was the case.
For instance, the total COVID-19 deaths in the affected 47 African countries is less than that of the United Kingdom alone.
Here, you will find the ten reasons why the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is meager in Sub-Sahara Africa. Starting from the early closure of borders to genetic factors, let’s explore below.
1. Early border closures
In a bid to control COVID-19 transmission through cross country, Sub-Sahara African countries closed down their borders early enough.
The low trade link between African countries and other countries of the world is a significant factor that affects the transmission of the pandemic in Africa. That is why it was easy for most African countries to put in place much faster measures to curb the spread.
There was partial or complete lockdown in most Sub-Sahara African countries to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Schools, market places, worship centers, and public establishments were closed regarding the stay-at-home orders by the government upon the discovery of the pandemic.
To help even the poorest homes in that period, government and multilateral companies set up stimulus packages.
For instance, the World Bank made available US$160 billion to ease the pandemic effects on the underprivileged populace and small businesses.
Also, IMF, European Union (EU), and African Development Bank (AfDB) provided US$2.7, Euro 3.25 billion, and US$10 billion incentives respectively to African countries.
The government also made its efforts during the lockdowns. The government of Senegal provided a ‘Force COVID-19’ fund available to its citizens during this period.
South African government, as well as that of Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, put in place US$160 million, US$1 billion, US$0.9 billion, and US$6.4 billion for its people.
3. Less international connectivity
Less urbanization and international connectivity is a critical factor in the low rate of Coronavirus cases and deaths in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Apart from the early border closures and lockdowns, the government health officials quarantined international visitors to high tourism destinations like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Ethiopia, and more others.
The two weeks quarantine period also applies to other persons who have contact with travelers. Additionally, local preventive measures were taken such as social distancing, wearing of face mask, and lots more.
4. Age demographics
Younger populations are less vulnerable to the pandemic, but that does not mean that COVID-19 affects people of all ages. From all indications, the fatality rate is higher among persons from 70 years and above.
Experts believe that the age demographic structure of the Sub-Sahara African region is the primary reason for the low rates of Coronavirus cases and deaths.
5. People with pre-existing conditions
In sub-Saharan Africa, people with pre-existing diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, asthma, sleep apnea, lupus, fatty liver, kidney issues, heart disease, and other prevalent life-threatening diseases are much less, making it much easier to control the pandemic.
Comorbidities or pre-existing health conditions like anemia, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses make people more prone to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sub-Sahara Africa, however, has fewer people with primary pre-existing health conditions than other parts of the world, and that is why the spread of COVID-19 is at a minimum.
6. Contact tracing
Once health practitioners identify a COVID-19 case, the necessary agencies make a great effort to trace contacts that person has come in contact with to quarantine them. These efforts paid a lot as they helped curtail the impacts of the pandemic in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Also, limited long-term care facilities and inadequate scientific knowledge of the pandemic are reasons for the low impact on the pandemic in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The majority of Africans do not know that they might have the COVID-19 virus and when they do not report their symptoms because of stigmatization, the health agencies will not know their case.
7. Use of herbal plants and natural remedies
Herbalists in Sub-Sahara Africa use a wide range of herbal medicine to boost their immunity against coronavirus disease.
Since most of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to cold and cough symptoms, they adopt the same treatments.
For instance, they use herbal teas for an immune boost and cure dry cough by chewing the backs of trees. Others treat nasal congestion by inhaling some leaves or treat chest congestion by covering themselves under steams. These methods and more have worked for ages in Sub-Sahara Africa.
8. Effective government public health responses
Since Africa was among the last to report the pandemic from across the globe, the government of Sub-Sahara African countries learned great lessons on how to control its outbreak.
First, the government made available health education at all levels, exposing the public to the pandemic’s signs, symptoms, and preventive measures.
They also began to set up a screening, testing, and quarantine centers and the provision of face masks, hand sanitizers, among others.
Another condition necessary for the spread of the pandemic is the high urban population. Though the first SARS-CoV-2 case was in Egypt because of its dense population, majorly from tourism, other countries took prevention measures seriously.
9. Adequate COVID-19 testing and reporting
According to Health data, the reports of the actual COVID-19 mortality rate in Sub-Sahara Africa were reasonable because the WHO took the responsibility to ensure adequate testing and information.
Since there is the adequacy of testing kits and other necessary infrastructures in many African countries, the reports of COVID-19 cases and deaths were lesser compared to other countries.
On the other hand, during the Covid-19 era, health centers provided adequate long-term care facilities that cater to the affected population.
10. Genetic factors
People of Sub-Sahara Africa descent tend to be less susceptible to the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts link it to genetic exposures and the environment.
Studies show that race and other socioeconomic factors like crowding, poverty more could contribute to the low impact of the pandemic in this region.
From all indications, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to affect more of the well-prepared and flexible Sub-Sahara African countries than the others.
A good example is South Africa, which recorded 33.3 death rates in the third quarter of 2020 against the less equipped Lesotho.
Therefore, the low impact of COVID-19 on Sub-Sahara African countries results from early closure of borders, lockdowns, less international connectivity, among others.