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Jorge Buescu: "Angola has some advantages over European reality" to fight covid-19

After the initial shock that covid-19 caused in the world, the established war between the virus and the countries seems to be slowing down. However, although the countries have already won some battles, the war is far from over.

: Miguel Manso/Público
Miguel Manso/Público  

In the case of Angola, the fight against the virus may be easier in some respects than in some European countries. In an interview with VerAngola, Jorge Buescu, Professor at the Department of Mathematics of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL), explained that our country "has some advantages over the European reality" to combat covid-19.

The biggest advantage is that Angola has a population "much younger" than Europe and has "a structure of contacts between regions much less dense," said the university professor, admitting that these two factors can "help moderate the spread and lethality" of coronavirus.

However, the specialist points out that the fact that the country has "worse sanitary conditions" and that hospital facilities are "more limited" may have some impact on the spread of covid-19.

In Europe, the disease has developed much earlier than on the African continent. Several countries have had to close shops, cafés, restaurants and other non-essential services. The number of infected people was rising from day to day and the number of deaths in just 24 hours in some European countries exceeded 700. Asked if Angola could reach such proportions, Jorge Buescu considered that "in the beginning there is no reason for the virus to behave differently".

"An initial phase of silent and exponential spread should be expected," he added, explaining that "the initial outbreak may be slower, perhaps less visible due to lack of testing, perhaps with fewer severe patients due to demography, but it will always be exponential.

He went on to say that "if there are lessons to be learned from the European phase, it is that this virus cannot be underestimated".

Looking at the spread of the coronavirus in Africa, Jorge Buescu again stressed that the fact that the population is younger is an advantage, which could provide a "slower" spread. "However, on the other side of the scale are the lack of sanitary and hygienic conditions and the lack of hospital resources. It is very difficult to predict the combined effect of all these structural conditions".

"The truth is that Africa is so far the continent where the known cases have grown most slowly. It cannot be excluded, at least in some countries, that there are few known cases because they are not being tested properly", he added.

Finally, he admitted that the best strategy to combat the virus is to locate and isolate the chains of infection to stop the epidemic at first.

"But this is a very treacherous and silent epidemic, and before you know it, it has exploded, as it did in Europe in February and March". In that case the only measures to be taken are: "To decrease the number of contacts between people, to decrease the probability of transmission by contact, namely with the use of masks, hygienization, etc.", he concluded.