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How Africa Can Fight the Pandemic

The response to Africa’s COVID-19 plight must be swift and at scale rather than too little, too late. In a world short of progressive global leadership, where rules-based global governance is under threat, this is a chance for African and international policymakers to take decisive action.

ADDIS ABABA – The COVID-19 death toll is still mounting in the developed West, but the pandemic’s impact on Africa could be much worse. African and international leaders must act boldly, decisively, and immediately to prevent a catastrophe.

Many African countries were ill-prepared to tackle the Ebola epidemic that erupted in 2014. And COVID-19 presents a much graver danger because it can spread exponentially, including via asymptomatic carriers, while African governments remain constrained by weak health-care systems, limited resources, and economic and spatial constraints on social-distancing measures.

Since Egypt reported Africa’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on February 14, the number of cases has risen to more than 10,000, with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa each recording over 2,000. The continent’s death toll already exceeds 500, implying a mortality rate well above the global average. This high death rate, together with the low number of confirmed cases, may reflect Africa’s very low rate of COVID-19 testing.

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