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Why are there so few coronavirus cases in Russia and Africa?

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
30,665
1,781
126
I know, I know, I have the answer, I really do know........
Teacher, teacher (hand raised and jumping up and down) I know....
Because God is giving us this one chance to take back our country from those who are claiming that Trump was chosen by God to lead our country! -- Hey don`t blame me!! It makes perfect sense to me!!


Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan, China in December 2019, we have seen the virus spread to over 160 countries. Several countries have experienced large outbreaks, including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain and France, with the US and UK seeing rapidly increasing numbers. But most countries in the world have reported very few to no cases of COVID-19.

While it is likely that the virus has not yet reached and started localised transmission in every country, many of these countries have strong travel, migration or trade relationships with China. This raises the question: are these low case numbers due to the virus not reaching or establishing infections, is it due to effective border control, or does it reflect a lack of screening and reporting?

The spread of an infectious disease from its country of origin is a complicated process involving many factors, but at its core, it is related to the movement of people. There are several parameters that can be used to coarsely estimate movement: travel (inbound and outbound), migration, trade and proximity. Looking at the number of COVID-19 cases in the context of the ranked order of flow of people and goods between China other countries, we see the following (as of March 15):

<span class=caption>2019 Sources: UN, World Bank, Statista, WTO and Worldometers.info.</span> <span class=attribution><span class=source>Jeremy Rossman</span></span>

2019 Sources: UN, World Bank, Statista, WTO and Worldometers.info. Jeremy Rossman
While this is a vastly simplified analysis of population movement, it is striking that there are only 63 cases reported in all of Russia. Given that Russia has very strong travel, emigration, immigration and trade relationships with China, its very low case numbers raise questions, especially as other countries with comparably close relationships (Japan, South Korea and the US) are experiencing significant local transmission.

Also, it is interesting that in the 15 countries that share land or sea borders with China (shown in bold), only 310 cases have been reported. Only India has reported more than 100 cases (108) and ten countries have reported between zero and five cases. Given that many of these countries have significant trade and travel relationships with China the low level of cases is surprising.

Few cases throughout Africa
Aside from Russia, there are other regions of the world that have not reported any (or many) cases of COVID-19. Of particular note is that in Africa only Egypt has reported over 100 cases (126) with most countries reporting between zero to five cases.

For the 54 countries in Africa, there have only been 253 cases out of the 167,519 cases worldwide. There are several possible reasons for the low number of cases in many of these countries.

We are still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is not surprising that some countries have not had any cases and are not yet experiencing local transmission of the virus. But understanding the reason why these sometimes well-connected countries have few reported cases is important for the global effort to contain the spread of the pandemic. There is a range of explanations for low case numbers, including weak travel connections, effective border screening and travel restrictions, local climate effects, a lack of screening or a lack of reporting.

When considering travel, many countries in question have very low levels of travel exchange with China. This is amplified by the travel restrictions implemented by China during the early stages of their outbreak that may have delayed the arrival of COVID-19 to many countries throughout Africa. In this scenario, case numbers will probably increase significantly over the coming two weeks due to the extensive ongoing transmission in many European countries with robust travel links to Africa.

Some countries with very good travel, migration and trade links with China still have comparable low case numbers (both Japan and Singapore have fewer than 1,000 cases). For these countries, there has been early and extensive border screening, control and surveillance, which has probably held the localised transmission in check. If these measures hold, these countries will probably see only slow increases in case numbers over the coming weeks.

It is interesting to see that most of the global cases are found north of the tropic of cancer. At present, there are only 2,025 cases south of the tropic of cancer. Case numbers in countries residing in the tropics or current southern hemisphere winter make up just 1.29% of the global cases. This could reflect global travel and trade relationships with China or could reflect impacts of climate on COVID-19 transmission.

It is also possible that the broad range of tropical infectious diseases has masked the identification of COVID-19 cases that often present with mild, non-specific symptoms.

If travel connections with China have been the limiting factor then cases are likely to rise over the next two weeks, as discussed above for Africa. If climate is affecting virus transmission then cases might remain low until cooler weather in the southern hemisphere, and if other diseases are masking COVID-19 cases, then the reported cases will probably remain low in these countries, though the actual cases would increase.

Finally, the low levels of reported cases in many countries may be due to a lack of testing or a lack of reporting. Many countries are actively pursuing policies in which only those with serious illness and a travel history to an area with strong local transmission will be tested, including the UK. This will lead to a dramatic under-reporting of case numbers and can jeopardise the ability to contain the pandemic, as the WHO has stated: “You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.”

Other countries may simply not have the infrastructure and resources to afford large-scale testing, limiting their ability to control the disease within the country and potentially creating hot spots where the virus can continually spread from. It is also possible that some countries are not reporting any or many of their cases to preserve their reputation or to prevent economic hardships that may be associated with containment measures, such as travel restrictions.

Dangerous game
It is of particular concern that with the close relationships to China and extensive national resources, Russia has only reported 63 cases. While it is possible that this low number reflects their active border control and screening there is a concern that this reflects either a lack of screening or a lack of reporting. Combined with the recent evidence that Russia has been behind several recent COVID-19 disinformation campaigns, this raises the concern that Russia may be playing a dangerous game with global health. Hopefully this is simply a case of good border control or low rates of testing, but time will tell.

This is a dynamically unfolding pandemic that will require the concerted efforts of counties around the world to control. As the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says: “we’re all in this together”.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
 

Dulanic

Diamond Member
Oct 27, 2000
9,630
213
116
Travel. It doesn't matter much now though, it really was just a delay to the start. But now that most have it, it will keep spreading in those areas too.

How many people do you know that take a vacation in say Ethiopia?
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
30,665
1,781
126
Travel. It doesn't matter much now though, it really was just a delay to the start. But now that most have it, it will keep spreading in those areas too.

How many people do you know that take a vacation in say Ethiopia?
What? You mean it is not God giving us a second chance?? HHmmmmm
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
12,436
1,873
126
Africa because they have not been testing for it, Russia because they are not testing much and because they are underreporting it when they do.
 
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cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
11,875
2,981
136
Russia : Cause an important vote is coming up to make Putin God Emperor for life, so the idea is that the spread is far bigger than reported and second Russia is able to stomp people out like China is. What that? A bug? STOMP.
 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
5,738
1,539
136
There are so many factors that could influence the data - both real factors, that affect the real rate of spread, and reporting biases either unintentional (lack of testing ability) or deliberate (propaganda and nationalist pride), so who knows?

I mean, I find myself wondering whether Italy has a much higher death rate than Germany because Italians are more likely to have multiple-generations of the same family living together, whereas in Northern Europe different generations are much more segregated. The stats show the cases in Germany are much more among the young whereas in Italy it's spread strongly into the elderly population, so perhaps the death rate in the former will stay low until it filters through to the older population - at which point it will start to climb rapidly?

So maybe Boomers and Millennials should continue to refuse to have anything to do with each other. Everyone needs to stay in their bubble!
 

woolfe9998

Diamond Member
Apr 8, 2013
9,729
3,865
136
Russia added 50 new cases so far today. It had 150 before today. Which means it is starting to take hold just now. This has been the pattern with most other countries. Give it a week.
 

JSt0rm

Lifer
Sep 5, 2000
27,321
3,856
126
it will keep coming back from these black holes for years. Thats why we need treatment and vaccines.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
7,207
4,125
136
As people have alluded to earlier, the problem is that the statistics come down to reporting... and reporting is lousy in the US, let alone in countries that are either ill-equipped to test for the virus (moreso than the US, that is) or have a vested interest in suppressing numbers. People could be dying in the streets in Pyongyang and you might not hear anything about it because it would undermine Kim Jong-un's image.
 

nickqt

Diamond Member
Jan 15, 2015
4,610
1,482
136
It's not being tested for adequately here either. The numbers are hilariously lower than reality.
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
12,436
1,873
126
It's not being tested for adequately here either. The numbers are hilariously lower than reality.
There is nothing hilarious about it. When you look at the percent of the few tests we do that come back positive it is downright scary.
Yes, I know that the ones they are testing are the most likely to have it, because we are not even testing people unless their doctor and the CDC agree they most likely have it. But still.
 

cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
11,875
2,981
136
There is nothing hilarious about it. When you look at the percent of the few tests we do that come back positive it is downright scary.
Yes, I know that the ones they are testing are the most likely to have it, because we are not even testing people unless their doctor and the CDC agree they most likely have it. But still.
80%?
 

hal2kilo

Lifer
Feb 24, 2009
12,167
1,947
126
amazing how healthy the population of west Virginia is.
I suspect a significant number of people in WVA are retired coal workers with various stages of black lung. Just wait. You ain't seen nothin yet.
 

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