African countries must prepare to protect vulnerable people and introduce measures of social distance due to the uncertainty that still exists about the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the continent, advises a report by the Tony Blair Institute.
The Institute for Global Transformation study “Planning the Worst and Hoping for the Best: Covid-19 Forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa”, founded by the former British Prime Minister, contains an analysis of five government intervention combinations and compares the respective impacts based on the trajectory of 18 sub-Saharan African countries, including Angola and Mozambique.
The authors, OB Sisay, Maryam Abdullah and Elizabeth Smith, conclude that the best option is a combination of 20% social distance and 80% protection for vulnerable people, that is, restricting movement or limiting contacts between people with use wearing masks or avoiding gatherings and keeping the elderly, diabetics, hypertensive patients, among others, in isolation.
This strategy, they calculated, can help cut the number of deaths in half (52%), reduce the number of infection cases by 31%, reduce the peak of hospitalizations by 66% and the use of intensive care beds by 67% .
In Africa, there are more than 12,000 confirmed deaths in more than 520,000 infected in 54 countries, according to the latest statistics on the pandemic in that continent.
However, the report found a wide variation between the predictions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which creates great uncertainty about how the pandemic will evolve.
While WHO in Africa predicts a final number of 87,000 deaths in 145 million cases of infection as a new coronavirus, resulting in a very low case mortality rate, an LSHTM model that analyzes 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa suggests more than one million deaths, even with containment measures.
“Currently, the numbers for Africa seem relatively low,” admits Tony Blair in a statement, admitting that “it may be that, as some suggest, the type of virus is weaker or the young population in Africa is more resistant”.
However, he adds, “it can also be simply a time lag, and the disease can start to accelerate.”
Other measures suggested in the report include public information campaigns, adapting test systems to available capacity and means, giving priority, for example, to health professionals and other critical service workers, and transparency in real-time data publishing.
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