Has the COVID-19 curve flattened in Cameroon?
Chinese authorities identified a new type of coronavirus (novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) from a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan city, Hubei Province, China, on 7 January 2020. SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. According to the information provided, the initial cases described in Wuhan were linked to the Wuhan seafood market in Wuhan (the market was closed on 1 January 2020). COVID-19 continues to ravage across countries across the world even as social distancing measures and border closures have reduced the rate of infection across some advanced and emerging market economies. The virus had equally damaging effects across Africa, whose health care system is underinvested, with higher population densities and urban slumps reducing the ability of health workers to effectively stem the spread of the virus.
In Cameroon, the virus has waxed and waned, with the number of confirmed by the WHO at 12, 592, with 313 deaths. At the peak of the virus, the government imposed lockdowns and guidelines to reduce the spread across the economy. These reduced the rate of spread momentarily, but recent data suggest a spike in July. At first, this appears to be alarming as several commentators continue to project economic, fiscal, and health doom for Africa, including Cameroon.
Figure 1: The number of people infected by COVID-19 appears to rise more slowly.
This is misguided for two reasons. While the Coronavirus has killed plenty of people in Sub-Saharan Africa so far, in over three months, malaria kills nearly 3000 people in this region every month. Every year, malaria kills 3.5 times more people than the virus has killed in the world. It is, therefore, important to note that while Africa’s underinvested health care sector and dismal infrastructure increase the risks of accelerated spreads, this has not been the case if one compares the number of people infected as a percentage of the total population.
In this reporting period (17 to 23 June 2020), the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the region has exceeded 200 000 and is now at 236 909 cases, including 236 589 confirmed and 320 probable cases, reported across the 47 countries in the region. The probable cases have been reported from Sao Tome and Principe (319) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo…