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Ghana’s Coronavirus Infections As A Proxy For All Of Africa

What if we’re treating this coronavirus the wrong way?

We do know that the coronavirus – or CORVID-19 – is going to spread in Africa. But we have a certain problem with knowing how badly. In fact, we have a certain problem with knowing much about any disease and its spread in large parts of Africa even afterwards, let alone when we try to predict. For the state is not strong, to use a mild euphemism, in many parts of the continent. There’s little state capacity and certainly no significant health care system.

We thus need to pick a place where there is indeed a functioning state and then use that as a proxy for what is happening elsewhere. Ghana being a good place to do so. Whole the state is not perfect- no one of them is, anywhere – it is at least extant and operating. There’s a free – vigorously so – press which means we will in fact get told what is happening. It’s doing much better than it was, certainly, but it’s not so rich that it’s entirely unrepresentative of what might be happening elsewhere.

It’s not perfect as a proxy but then nothing ever is. So:

Ghana has recorded five (5) new confirmed cases of the fast-spreading Coronavirus pandemic, making a total of 16 cases in all.

All 5 cases were confirmed on the 19th March 2020 from the Greater Accra Region, according to information on government’s official COVID-19 update page;

Details on the ghana health service page indicate that the cases involve a 29-year-old Ghanaian lady; a resident of Accra with no history of travel. A sample from her was confirmed positive in the laboratory

Clearly, the infection is in its early days there.

One of the things we want to know is whether the assumed connection with weather – perhaps climate – is true. Generally influenzas don’t like warm weather, they live longer outside the body in colder climes. So, are we going to see a tropical epidemic rather than the occasional, as here, infection?

There’s no point in our studying, say, the CAF because we’d simply never know what was happening.

Health authorities in Ghana have initiated contact tracing in the five newly confirmed novel coronavirus cases recorded in the country Friday morning.

As at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, at the time the country’s national tally of the disease stood at 11, health officials had traced 399 persons who were said to have had contacts with the infected persons and were being monitored.

Of the figure, 19 of them developed some symptoms of the deadly virus, prompting authorities to subject them to testing but the results of 15 of them came out negative, while officials said the four were outstanding at the time.

Well, what is the capacity to spread in a much warmer climate? We would like to know. For if there’s going to be a continuing reservoir of infection to come back at us in the future it’s going to be in those poorer countries that it will hide.

Of course we’re interested for more elevated reasons too:

More African countries closed their borders Thursday as the coronavirus’ local spread threatened to turn the continent of 1.3 billion people into an alarming new front for the pandemic.

“About 10 days ago we had about five countries” with the virus, WHO’s Africa chief Dr. Matshidiso Moeti told reporters. Now 34 of Africa’s 54 countries have cases, with the total close to 650. It’s an “extremely rapid evolution,” she said. In fact, the first sub-Saharan Africa case was announced Feb. 28.

There’re some billion people out there at risk and without access to anything more than the most basic of health care. We’re thus going to see what would – could – happen in he absence of effective action to curtail the infections.

We’d all much prefer not to be able to make such observations but we have to get our science where we can.

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Tristram Fuller
Tristram Fuller
4 years ago

It seems,from studying China, humidity is more of a factor than heat. Hence there are plenty of cases in say Iran where humidity is low at this time of year but it is obviously hotter than many countries. There are many factors and it is clearly still very early on. I think Africa is going to suffer terribly.

4 years ago

Surely the best way to monitor the disease in Africa is just to monitor overall deaths rates? If they rise significantly then that would suggest CV19 is having an additional effect, if there is no statistical sign of a change then it isn’t………

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