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How tangible are contacts between Africa and Islam: COVID-19 aka Corona Virus – Dr. Glen Segell

March 19, 2020

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How tangible are contacts between Africa and Islam: COVID-19 aka Corona Virus

By Glen Segell

University of Haifa

Volume 8 (2020), Number 5 (March 2020)

Some facts and figures viewed provide provocation on whether Africa’s relations with Islam are spiritual, lacking tangible contact. A hypothesis is that tangible contact, that is to say, travel for any purpose, is more between Africa and Europe than anywhere else despite the residual colonial pain. And what about trade? Is that the same as human travel? The first 78 days since the outbreak of the COVID-19 aka Corona Virus provides some facts and figures that could lead to some initial thoughts. Such an examination will assist in combating radicalization in Africa; by treating it as a local phenomenon.

The facts

COVID-19 requires physical closeness to be transmitted. Since 31 December 2019 and as of 18 March 2020, worldwide 194909 cases of COVID-19 (also known as Corona Virus) have been reported, including 7876 deaths (in accordance with the applied case definitions and testing strategies in the affected countries) [1]

As of 18 March 2020 African countries have reported COVID-19 cases on their government portals and through official state media: Egypt (166), South Africa (85), Algeria (60), Morocco (44), Senegal (31), Tunisia (24), Burkina Faso (20), Cameroon (10), Rwanda (7), Ghana (6), Côte d’Ivoire (5), Ethiopia (5), Kenya (4), Seychelles (4), Democratic Republic of the Congo (3), Nigeria (3), Liberia (2), Namibia (2), Benin (1), Central African Republic (1), Congo (1), Equatorial Guinea (1), Eswatini (1), Gabon (1), Gambia (1), Guinea (1), Mauritania (1), Somalia (1), Sudan (1), Togo (1) and United Republic of Tanzania (1).

As of 18 March 2020, 17 Arab countries have reported COVID-19 cases on their government portals and through official state media: Qatar (439), Egypt (166 and 4 deaths), Bahrain (147 and 1 death), Kuwait (130), Iraq (124 and 9 deaths), Lebanon (109 and 3 deaths), Saudi Arabia (103), UAE (98), Algeria (48 and 4 deaths), Palestine (39), Morocco (37 and 1 death), Oman (24), Tunisia (18), Jordan (12), Sudan (1 and one death), Somalia (1)  and Mauritania (1). Even though Iran is supposedly under boycott and sanctions it is the worst hit with 16169 cases and 988 deaths.

The initial thoughts

There are some similarities between African and Middle East states and the United States of America. Countries in Africa, the Middle East and the United States are probably facing higher rates of COVID-19 infection than the official reported figures noted above, as governments move to close borders in a bid to curb the spread of disease. The governments are not hiding the figures.

The point is that there are no adequate central government health and welfare systems in African and Middle East states and the United States of America. Sick people stay at home, are attended by private or NGO medical facilities and so the governments don’t have the data. Those who cannot pay die and sometimes the cause is never investigated or recorded. European social welfare states and China, on the other hand, have very well established government health systems. Sick people receive free treatment from the government and so attend their medical facilities. The cause of death is always investigated and recorded.

Even if the figures of COVID-19 are higher in Africa than reported, there are some interesting points to think about.

1) There is an assumption voiced in many media, academic, business and other circles that the African continent has close links to China. China was where the infection was first identified and allegedly originated in late December 2019. But the cases in Africa have all so far been linked to Europe. On 12 March 2020 Africa registered its first death as a direct result from COVID-19. It was a German tourist who died in Egypt. On 18 March 2020, the first recorded death in sub-Saharan Africa was confirmed by Burkina Faso. The victim, aged 62 was a vice president in Burkina Faso’s national assembly and had diabetes.[2]

2) At the same time, there is an assumption voiced in many media, academic, military and other circles that the African continent is facing growing radicalization with Islam being the cause. Both Sunni and Shia Islam. Yet, there is nothing to suggest that the pace of COVID-19 infection in Middle East states including Iran is being faced anywhere in Africa states.

Conclusions

The two points above are very important because COVID-19 infection cannot be treated and there isn’t a vaccine. The acceptable medical procedure adopted is to isolate those infected or potentially infected to limit the spread. The virus can also live on surface areas eg parcels or post for up to 72 hours. There are daily flights between Africa and the Middle East, Europe and China yet after the first 78 days since the outbreak of the COVID-19, the evidence is that Africa has been infected from Europe.

There is no evidence that African countries have been infected from travel or trade from the Middle East and China. The hypothesis that now needs further research is that tangible contact, that is to say, travel for any purpose, is more between Africa and Europe than anywhere else despite the residual colonial pain. That leads to a provocation that perhaps Africa and Islam are more spiritual that tangible contact. Such will assist in combating radicalization in Africa; by treating it as a local phenomenon.

Sources

[1] Source consulted 18 March 2020: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, (An agency of the European Union) available at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases

[2] Source consulted 18 March 2020 . The BBC website https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-51939591

 

 

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