A video from Egypt, shared widely on social media, has brought renewed international attention to the COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent.
The video, which has not been independently verified by AT, was shot at the El Husseineya Central Hospital in the eastern Ash Sharqia region. It appears to show patients and staff in an intensive care unit where patients allegedly died because the hospital oxygen system failed, in what news accounts say is the second such incident in Egypt.
The country’s Ministry of Health has denied the oxygen failure and Egyptian authorities are investigating the claim.
Egypt has lost 7,863 patients to the coronavirus, according to figures updated through Monday by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been 143,464 cases reported.
However, South Africa remains the hardest-hit nation by far, with 1.1 million confirmed COVID cases and more than 30,000 fatalities. The latest figures come amid concerns about new strains of the virus found in South Africa as well as Nigeria, and questions as to why Africans appear to have been spared the impacts seen in the United States and the UK.
There may be far more cases than reported because of limits on testing capacity in some nations, according to Africa CDC director John N. Nkengasong, who co-authored a report for the journal Science that was published Friday. On the other hand, African governments responded quickly early in the outbreak and may have benefited as a result.
“The puzzle of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa can partly be explained by decisive measures taken early to prepare the continent,” said Nkengasong and Justin Maeda, a Tanzanian epidemiologist at the CDC.
“However, more data are needed to complement what is routinely collected through surveillance and response to understand the different pieces of the puzzle that contribute to the pattern of the pandemic in Africa.”
Image: University of Hong Kong file