How hard will Covid-19 hit the Southern Hemisphere?
So far the countries of Africa and South America have been far less affected by the corona pandemic than the wealthy North. As of Tuesday there were only about 350 recorded infections across Africa. Experts see the infrastructure built up during and after the Ebola epidemic of 2014 as one potential explanation for this. But commentators are nonetheless worried.
The last thing Nigeria needs now
This African country is already struggling with a host of other major problems, ThisDay points out:
“It's striking that the Nigerian authorities have already taken steps to ensure that the outbreak does not lead to another public health crisis in a country facing countless challenges. These include insecurity, poverty and, of course, the Lassa fever epidemic, which has claimed many lives in recent weeks. ... If the coronavirus outbreak spreads rapidly from the two regions of Lagos and Ogun to other parts of the country that are not able to cope with such emergencies, the proud claim that Nigeria was the first state to successfully contain Ebola in 2014 will become meaningless.”
Nothing to stop the virus
Polityka explains that African countries will be particularly vulnerable for numerous reasons if the pandemic continues to spread there:
“In Congo the search for those infected is limited to observing travelers at airports. However, as in other parts of the world, such methods have produced meagre results. Consequently there is good reason to fear that the virus will spread freely in African countries. The fact that millions of Africans are already weak due to widespread diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis, and malaria makes the situation all the more alarming. On top of this you have the poor state of healthcare systems. ... These may not even be able to help patients who develop the worst symptoms of a coronavirus infection.”
Threat of a social explosion
The Tages-Anzeiger fears that poorer countries won't be able to adopt measures that have been proven effective in Asia and Europe:
“Keeping a safe distance and washing one's hands frequently is pure wishful thinking in the cramped, congested, dusty slums of the so-called Third World, especially in those without running water. In many poor countries, medical care worthy of the name exists only for those who can afford it. ... More than 40 percent of Brazilian workers are employed in the informal sector, meaning they have no job contracts, no daily sickness pay and no unemployment benefits. ... The greatest danger posed by the coronavirus is a social explosion in the Southern Hemisphere.”