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Experts explain Africa’s coronavirus infection drop

A passenger's body temperature is being tested at the gate of entry upon arrival at the Murtala International Airport in Lagos, on March 2, 2020. - Nigeria is monitoring 58 people who had contact with an Italian man infected with the new coronavirus, the health minister said Monday, as officials scrambled to stop the disease spreading. Africa's most populous country on Friday confirmed the first case of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa after the patient was diagnosed in the economic hub Lagos. (Photo by BENSON IBEABUCHI / AFP) (Photo by BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images)


Expertise in epidemic control, a young population and a possible effect of pre-existing immunity were cited as possible factors.

The panel of experts, that included the WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, offered several explanations to the different behaviour of the pandemic in the continent, when compared to the rest of the world.

The swift application of lockdowns that came at a high cost for many economies was mentioned.

The structure of the African society of caring for the elderly at home was also cited.

But new explanations also emerged in the conference, such as the possible impact of smaller urban areas in many African countries, which means that the virus could travel less fast in more remote populations in rural areas.

The continent’s transport system was also mentioned, as cities and regions are not as interconnected as in other parts of the world.

Dr Moeti said that previous experiences in handling pandemics, such as Ebola, have also proven crucial when dealing with this pandemic.

But she warned that more research needs to be done to establish the true extent of Covid-19 on the continent.

More than 1.4 million confirmed cases have been reported in Africa with over 34,000 deaths. About one million people have already recovered.