African countries confronts a difficult choice as infections are rapidly rising: Welcome the international flights that originally brought Covid-19 to the ill-prepared continent, or further hurt their economies and restrict a lifeline for badly needed humanitarian help.
Africa had more than 463,000 confirmed virus cases as of Sunday and South Africa, its most developed economy, already struggles to care for Covid-19 patients.
Most of Africa’s 54 countries closed their airspace to ward off the virus. That bought time to prepare, but it also hurt efforts to deliver life-saving medical supplies such as vaccines against other diseases. Shipments of personal protective gear and coronavirus testing materials, both in short supply, have been delayed.
“Many governments have decided travel needs to resume,” the WHO’s Africa chief said.
Africa has seen far fewer flights than other regions during the pandemic spread. Senegal’s president has said international flights will begin on July 15. “It’s good to be back!” Africa’s largest carrier, Ethiopian Airlines said.