Coronavirus map: Why has Africa had fewer cases? Is it because it’s hot?

Coronavirus has finally planted a foothold in the UK, where it has caused more than 160 infections over the past weeks. The country is now one of the most infected in Europe, as most places tackle limited infections in single figures.

Why has Africa had fewer coronavirus cases?

COVID-19 infections have arisen in nearly every continent, but the most have turned up in Europe and Asia.

There, authorities have detected more than 90,000 of the total 101,733 cases, accounting for at least 90 percent of coronavirus infections.

Other continents have had fewer cases, especially Africa, which has seen just 43 despite its booming population and expansive landmass.

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Africa has had a complex relationship with disease, and in the past served as breeding grounds for Ebola, Dengue fever and Rift Valley fever.

However, coronavirus has struggled to dig its claws into the continent, and there could be several reasons why.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Doctor Jonas Nilsen, MD and co-founder of travel vaccination specialists Practio, revealed why the virus may be struggling to plant itself.

He outlined four possible factors which could be influencing the African COVID-19 outbreak; climate, laboratory capacity, travel, and genetics.

Climate

According to Doctor Nilsen, warmer conditions make it difficult for viruses to take hold.

He said: “People tend to stay more outside and be less close to each other in warmer weather conditions, which limit the chance of disease transfer.

“UV-radiation from the sun is also known to destroy virus particles.”

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Laboratory capacity

Doctor Nilsen suggests Africa could have more cases than it seems due to “inferior” laboratory capacity compared to other regions.

He said: “There have been only a few confirmed cases of coronavirus.

“This is not the same as there are no cases. There might be a lot more cases that have not been confirmed due to inferior laboratory capacity.

“A few weeks ago, of all sub-Saharan countries, only Senegal and South Africa had laboratories with the capacity to test for coronavirus. That number has increased to 29 countries since.”

Travel activity

Some African nations have responded to the coronavirus in a similar way to the rest of the world, grounding flights from infected countries.

Doctor Nilsen said: “Several African airlines have suspended flights between Africa and regions severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including China.

“Travel restrictions and less travel activity, in general, might have impacted the spread of the disease.”

Genetics

Doctor Nilsen said the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ genetics make it “vulnerable” to warm weather.

The disease relies on aerosol transmission, which is most effective in cold, dry air.

In warm and humid air, the virus may find it difficult to remain afloat, and ultimately end up infecting fewer people.

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