The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on April 18 that Africa could be the next epicenter of the coronavirus. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also predicted that the pandemic will take a heavy toll and push nearly 30 million people into poverty on the continent.
According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 9 am EAT Tuesday, a total of 47,118 COVID-19 cases and 1,843 deaths have been reported in 53 African countries. Since the last briefing on last Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 42 percent.
Regarding why there are fewer cases compared with Europe and the US, WHO Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said in an interview with BBC, "Africa has fewer people who are traveling internationally." Now that the virus is within Africa and spreading from the urban areas to “the hinterlands”, WHO is “acting under the assumption that it will spread just as quickly as elsewhere”.
In addition, Africa has a "very, very limited" and “very, very strained” testing capacity, said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical experts also indicated that “the surge in infections on the continent is almost certainly under-reported and even higher in reality”.
The limited resources, weak health care systems and poor living condition of its large populations, as well as the insecure economic and financial situation of numerous countries, have aroused great concern from the WHO and international community.
From March 1 to April 30, China has sent over 71.2 billion yuan (10 billion dollars) in medical equipment (27.8 billion masks, 170 million protective clothes, 73.41 million coronavirus testing kits and 49,100 ventilators, according to Chinese customs) to other countries worldwide, including in Africa. Relief funds were offered and many Chinese medical teams have been sent to Africa, joining the virus fight with the local people.
Furthermore, private players such as the Jack Ma Foundation and the Huawei Group have also provided urgently needed supplies to African countries. Various online video conferences, initiated by both Chinese official and private sectors, have facilitated experience and knowledge sharing between Chinese medical personnel and African counterparts, to work together against COVID-19.
While China has made great efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic, some Western media have maliciously attacked and discredited China's foreign aid. The Western countries intentionally use the media to spread their “blame game” and “attack China strategy” in Africa.
However, the Ambassador of Niger to China pointed out that “these false reports and defamatory remarks are aimed at provoking friendly relations between China and Africa. But no matter how the international situation changes, the deep friendship between China and Africa will be unbreakable”.
As developing countries, the relationship between China and African countries has a long history, and share similar challenges in development. Both sides have learned from each other and supported each other through collaboration, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The long-lasting China-Africa relationship will not be misled, and will go through the test of the COVID-19 pandemic through solidarity and unity.