The risk of dying from COVID-19 in Botswana has doubled over the last three weeks, but the country is still Africa’s Coronavirus success story – a Sunday Standard data analytics has revealed.
First the bad news: Botswana’s Covid 19 Case Fatality Ration (CFR) had increased from 0,247% in August to 0,444 at the time of going to press, which means Batswana who are infected from the virus are almost twice as likely to die from the disease compared to last month. Most disturbing is that the percentage increase in Botswana’s COVID-19 death risk is the highest in Africa.
Then the good news: Although Botswana’s Covid 19 CFR has almost doubled over the past month, Botswana is the only country in Africa with a CFR of less than 1%. This means Batswana who are infected with the virus are still the least likely to die from the disease compared to other countries in Africa. And because Botswana has a very low coronavirus CFR, a single COVID 19 death registers as a huge percentage increase in the country’s virus death risk.
The CFR is an index used to measure the mortality risk of COVID-19 – the likelihood that someone who catches the disease will die from it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses among other indicators, the CFR which is the proportion of individuals diagnosed with a disease who die from that disease and is therefore a measure of severity among detected cases. The CFR is the number of deaths from the disease divided by the number of confirmed cases and multiplied by 100.
Namibia which last month was the only other country in Africa with a CFR of less than 1% has also recorded a spike in fatality ration and now has a CFR of 1.03%.
The COVID-19 death risk increase appears to be part of a pattern throughout the continent. South Africa which last month had a CFR of 1.96% now stands at 2,37%.
Africa’s emerging COVID-19 data confirms earlier research the Botswana may turn out to be a coronavirus success story.
A research paper under titled “A Success Story: How Botswana is Winning the War against Coronavirus? by
Uchendu G from Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria published earlier this year forecasted that Botswana’s success in fighting the virus would be even more pronounced as the country moves out of the cold winter season.
States the research report: “there are two strong reasons why COVID-19 may not establish and flourish in Botswana. These are:
High atmospheric temperature
As earlier established in this writeup, the COVID-19 of a double helix RNA virus. It is highly susceptible to acids and acidic compounds and highly thermolabile; that is, easily destroyed by heat. COVID-19 does not survive in an atmospheric temperature about 26 degrees Celsius. Botswana average temperature at this time of the first outbreak up till April 5, 2020 ranges from 230C lowest to 370C highest; given an average temperature of 300C. This temperature is high enough to decimate COVID-19. In addition to Botswana heat, the air is dry. Both conditions will make it difficult for COVID-19 to establish in Botswana.
Botswana preparedness and compliance to WHO directives on COVID-19
Botswana has many success stories; the stable economy, peaceful politics, respect for human and animal rights etc. Another Botswana success story, which the rest of the world can learn is Botswana’s preparedness for the COVID-19 outbreak and compliance to the WHO directives on COVID-19. Within the first week of March, 2020, the government of Botswana had provided free testing at border posts. The author was tested on March 9, 2002. Free hand washes were provided in public schools before its eventual closure on March 21, 2020; a new Act on COVID-19 was produced and distributed freely by March 20; aggressive awareness campaign programs resumed; as different national Embassies demonstrated the so-called Coronavirus greeting, religious, sporting and social functions were suspended for 30 days starting from March 18, 2020. By March 20, 2020, not more than 10 people were allowed to gather in one place either for religious or social functions. Defaulter were arrested as at March 23, 2020. It is therefore not surprising that although the virus is spreading in the four bordering countries, there is no record of Coronavirus in Botswana. There are arguments that Botswana adhere to extant laws because of their low population but on the contrary, Botswana’s compliance is cultural; Batswana are more law-abiding than citizens of most other African countries where we have visited or lived in. We might be wrong but this is our personal observation.”
The recent spike in Botswana’s COVID 19 infections and CFR however belies earlier predictions that the virus would most likely shrivel as the winter season gives way to summer.