Just when you think it’s over, it’s not over, says a WHO professor.
Prof. Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Center on Public Health and Human Rights, said outbreaks in the developing world could lead to future epidemics even after the current one is brought under control, UK’s The Sun reported.
Covid-19 has swept across Asia, Europe, and North America in recent months, but is yet to infect significant numbers of people in Africa or the subcontinent.
While virus cases among Africa’s 1.3 billion people total more than 16,000, health experts have said the continent is weeks behind the US and Europe in the pandemic and the rise in cases looks alarmingly similar to Europe’s, CTV News reported.
African officials have joined forces in recent days to appeal for billions of dollars in financial assistance and improve their position in the global competition with richer countries for badly needed medical equipment.
The African Union appointed four special envoys to mobilize support and created a platform to help the continent’s 54 countries bulk-buy medical goods at more accessible prices.
Meanwhile, fears have been raised about the likely ability of governments and health system in lower-income countries to contain or combat the coming outbreak, The Sun reported.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Professor Gostin said: “Covid-19 is about to march through sub-Saharan Africa and perhaps the Indian subcontinent like an avalanche.
“Even if the United States and Europe were to get their Covid epidemics under control, if you’ve got Covid rages in other parts of the world, in this interconnected society we live in, it will come back to Europe and the United States.
“And in fact I could predict that if it gets out of control in these lower income countries that we will see in the US and Europe a second, and a third wave, and even a fourth wave of Covid.
“So we’re truly only as safe as the weakest link in the global chain.”
The professor was speaking following a decision by President Trump to withdraw US funding for the WHO over perceived leniency towards China and the Chinese Communist Party, The Sun reported.
Announcing the decision, the vitriolic presdent said: “Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death.
“This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value… and defended the actions of the Chinese government.”
The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved $500 million to cancel six months of debt payments for 25 of the world’s most impoverished countries, including 19 African ones, so they can help tackle the pandemic, CTV reported.
Africa’s debt-to-GDP ratio has climbed from 30% in 2012 to 95% today, said French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview posted Wednesday with Radio France Internationale.
“So we absolutely must help Africa to strengthen its capacities to respond to the health shock, and we must help it to respond economically to this crisis,” said Macron.
According to the latest CDC data, the number of coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 16,000 as the death toll moved closer to 875.
The worst-hit countries on the continent are South Africa with 1,686 cases and 12 deaths, Algeria with 1,423 cases and 173 deaths, Egypt with 1,322 cases and 85 fatalities, and Morocco with 1,120 cases and 80 deaths.