Most African countries are reopening airspaces in the face of the rising Covid-19 cases. As COVID-19 cases increase in most countries worldwide, the island nation of Seychelles was doing great: more than three months straight without a single infection. Then the planes landed. Two chartered Air Seychelles flights transporting more than 200 passengers brought the coronavirus. Some of the passengers tested positive. Then, the country’s cumulative cases shot from 11 to 81 between June 24 and 30.
Currently, the Indian Ocean nation has delayed the reopening of commercial flights for the international tourism industry until Aug. 1, if recovery goes well. Many African nations face a dilemma as infections rise rapidly: Welcome the international flights that initially brought the virus to the continent, or further damage their economies and restrict a lifeline for humanitarian aid.
“This is a very crucial moment,” Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Africa chief, said on Thursday, next day after Egypt reopened its airspaces for the first time in more than three months.
Other African countries are preparing to follow. That’s despite Africa having more than 463,000 confirmed virus cases as of Sunday (July 5). Meanwhile, South Africa, its most developed economy, struggles to care for COVID-19 patients.
Development of Covid-19 in African Nations.
Africa having the Total confirmed cases at 476,967, a total of 227,282 recoveries, 11366 Total deaths, and finally 238,319 active cases. These are the current figures up to July 6. The African economy is sick. The continent has lost almost $55 billion in the tourism and travel sectors in the last three months. Airspaces have lost nearly $8 billion, and others may eventually collapse confirms African Union. With the closing of the airspaces, deliver of life-saving medical supplies like vaccines was impossible to get. Then followed the delay of Covid-19 testing material and protective gear shipment in the continent.
“Most governments are determined to resume flights,” the WHO’s Africa chief said.
Africa has landed fewer flights than any other region during the pandemic. Sometimes the entire Central and West African region scheduled a single flight daily. While North America, Asia, and Europe made a hundred departures in a single day, Africa averaged a few daily. The previous week, the cumulative number of global flights increased significantly. In the period between June 30 and July 2, the daily departures increased from 3,960 to 6,508 as countries eased restrictions, the data show. Most African nations want to follow the crowd. Senegal plans to resume international flights at the beginning of July 15. Domestic flights in Nigeria resume on July 8 and while Rwanda on Aug. 1.
Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea have commercial flights operating. Somalia and South Africa are open for domestic flights. Ethiopian Airlines are back to normal from last month. Kenya Airways plans to resume international flights. Open countries are expecting tourism boost despite the extent of infections in the country.
Airspaces Continue to Reopen.
The WHO Africa chief hopes to see airspaces do more like physical distancing in flights. In case the virus flares up, then the traveling restrictions should be reversed. Countries should also put into consideration if their health systems can manage big numbers in case of a spike due to the resumption of flights. The transmission rates should overweigh the country’s economic benefit of opening borders.
Regional authorities of the International Air Transport Association and Airports Council International are ready for operation. They welcome the global guidelines for the return of the aviation industry. As African countries slowly resume flight, some European nations are limiting entry to residents from countries they feel are doing a better job of containing the virus. African nations are seizing the moment and doing more tourism at home.
“This is an opportunity to encourage Africans to see Africa.”