The death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic crossed the one million mark on Tuesday which the World Health Organization (WHO) said was a “a very sad milestone”. The United Nations body said on Tuesday that the victims off Covi-19, the disease caused by the virus, suffered “a terribly difficult and lonely death” and their families did not even have the opportunity to bid them goodbye.
On Tuesday, the death toll because of the pandemic all across the world went past the million mark on Tuesday which was grim statistic of a pandemic that has destroyed the world’s economy, strained and stretched the health systems of countries and have completely altered the way of life for people.
“So many people have lost so many people and haven’t had the chance to say goodbye. Many people who died died alone… It’s a terribly difficult and lonely death,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. “The one positive thing about this virus is it is suppressable, it is not the flu.”
In a separate development, health and pandemic experts are now left wondering how Africa managed to keep the death toll and fatality rate in the continent, which has overburdened public health systems, a shortage of testing facilities and overcrowded slums, much lower than most fo the developing countries.
At the beginning of the pandemic in Africa the February, experts had predicted that Covid-19 would wreck havoc in the continent.
Much wealthier countries of Asia and Europe are still suffering from the pandemic. A United Nations agency had predicted in April that the pandemic could cause the death of 300,000 Africans this year even if strict social distancing norms were implemented there.
And then in May this year, the WHO had issued a warning of the death of f190,000 people on the continent in the event of failure of containment measures.
But even as the world noted Covid-19 death surpassing the one million mark, the situation in Africa is much better than expected and with a much lower percentage of deaths compared to other continents.
With a case fatality of 2.4 per cent, there have been roughly 35,000 deaths in the continent out of a total of more than 1.4 million people being confirmed to have been infected by the disease.
The case fatality rate is at 2.9 per cent in North America and 4.5 per cent in Europe.
Fatality rates of 11.6 per cent and 9.0 per cent were reported for the hard hit countries of Italy and Britain respectively. In comparison, the rate is at 1.6 per cent for Ethiopia, 1.9 per cent for Nigeria and 2.4 per cent for South Africa – which is the worst affected country of the continent.
Admissions with Covid-19 are falling, says hospitals in many African countries.
“Based on what we have seen so far it is unlikely that we are going to see anything at the scale that we are seeing in Europe – both in terms of infections and mortality,” said Rashida Ferrand, a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor working at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
Experts however suspect that many deaths because of Covid-19 are being missed in the continent that has the lowest in the world.
However others believe that the low case fatality rate can be because of a number of factors which can include the youthful population of Africa and the lessons that the continent learned from past disease outbreaks. Further, the relative isolation of many of their citizens from airports and other places also meant that there was more precious time at the hands of African governments.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)