South Africa’s 8 coronavirus lessons for the rest of Africa

South Africa’s 8 coronavirus lessons for the rest of Africa

South Africa’s 8 coronavirus lessons for the rest of Africa

South Africa leads the continent in many ways and right now it is poised to lead Africa into the next, most dangerous phase of the pandemic, as the country braces itself for a dramatic rise in infections that will almost certainly overwhelm its relatively well-resourced healthcare system, writes Andrew Harding of BBC News.

He says there are eight things it can teach the rest of Africa:

1) Keep the tea rooms clean – Instead of wasting time and money – as many experts now see it – on acquiring expensive but relatively ineffective ventilators, the evidence from South African hospitals already grappling with the virus points to the need for vastly improved hygiene protocols.
2) Fast tests – or no tests – the article says after a promising start, South Africa is now struggling, woefully, with its testing. “Currently the turnaround time for COVID tests is around 14 days in most places, so that basically means it’s a complete waste of time,” said Dr Tom Boyles, an infectious disease specialist in Johannesburg. The same concerns apply to South Africa’s much-hailed community screening and testing programme which, experts say, has outlived its usefulness, since the virus has now spread far beyond the capacity of the country’s large team of community health workers to track with any effectiveness.
3) It is not old age, it is obesity – the report says much has been made of the fact that Africa has an unusually young population, and, indeed, that may yet help to mitigate the impact of the virus here. But the evidence from several South African hospitals already suggests that alarmingly high levels of obesity – along with hypertension and diabetes – in younger COVID-19 patients are linked to many fatalities. Two-thirds of coronavirus deaths in South Africa so far are among people aged under 65, according to Professor Shabir Madhi, a prominent vaccine expert. “Obesity is a big issue, along with hypertension and diabetes,” he said.

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