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Updated Apr 7, 2020

A new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine forecasts that every African country will have at least 1,000 known COVID-19 cases by May 1. Using World Health Organization Situation Reports from March 24, the researchers expected the number of cases to grow to 10,000 by the end of May. The rate of infection seems to be consistent across most of the continent, spelling out a highly troubling situation where health systems across the board become overwhelmed, making it difficult for wealthier countries to assist their poorer neighbors.

The reports also states that Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and South Africa are expected to reach 10,000 cases each by mid-April. By the end of April, this group will expand to include Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and Equatorial Guinea.

By April 1, Portuguese-speaking African countries had not reached their first 10 cases yet, so they were expected to have a slower progression.


Why It Matters

Models like this one are important for pandemic response and management. Having worse-case-scenario contingency plans in place ensures state functions are not caught off-guard by an outbreak, which helps prevent healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed and lowers the fatality rate. It also gives the African Union a stronger footing when negotiating with the International Monetary Fund or other international financial institutions. The likelihood of tens of thousands of Africans suffering from COVID-19 and unable to access treatment because of weak healthcare systems, especially in the poorest countries like Niger and Chad, drives the point home that US$10 or US$20 billion offers simply won’t be enough.

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