How world sees SA: Youthful population is ‘significant’ reason for low Covid-19 deaths in Africa

Two months after it opened, Khayelitsha Field Hospital abruptly closed. The facility, constructed on the outskirts of the South African city of Cape Town, had been built in anticipation of a wave of Covid-19 deaths, says Wired Magazine.

In April as Covid-19 swept the globe, the United Nations issued a stark warning: Africa might be next. Officials said Covid-19 could kill at least 300,000 people in Africa and as many as 3.3 million.

In May, with infections and deaths still surprisingly low in South Africa, the World Health Organisation revised that prediction down. To date, just over 40,000 Africans have lost their lives to Covid-19.

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Wired magazine writes that Gilles Van Cutsem, a senior HIV and tuberculosis adviser for Médecins Sans Frontières at the Southern African Medical Unit in Cape Town says,“Very few cases were identified.”

There is no single reason for Africa’s seemingly remarkable escape. There are some trends that hint at why deaths from Covid-19 remain low on the continent. The median age in Africa is about half of that in Europe. This has played a significant role, Denis Chopera, a public healthcare expert at the Africa Research Institute in KwaZulu-Natal tells Wired.

The WHO suggests that across the continent, high rates of tuberculosis, HIV, polio and Ebola, have also ensured a wealth of well-trained medical professionals and the infrastructure and expertise to handle a pandemic. It seems Africa’s battles have created a society that has a rare resilience.

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