How does a palm fringed lagoon in Fiji or New Caledonia sound or perhaps a dive resort in Papua New Guinea, a beachfront hotel in East Timor? The more adventurous might like to try Latvia, Slovakia, Vietnam or Kuwait.
As the number of deaths increases in Australia and across the first world from the rapidly spreading coronavirus, these exotic locations and many more in the developing world, have reported few cases and zero fatalities so far.
From Libya in the north down to South Africa many poorer countries, some of which have been associated with plague and famine, are so far being spared from the global pandemic. Somalia, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Ethiopia have not reported a single fatality from the latest coronavirus to terrorise the human race.
However, given the massive amount of Chinese investment in Africa ($300 billion between 2005 and 2018 with another $60 billion in the pipeline) and the large numbers of Chinese workers employed on investment projects especially in Nigeria and Angola – which have recorded just one and two COVID-19 deaths respectively – the big question is will Africa be spared from the virus?
As of midday (Sydney time) on March 31 the total number of confirmed cases worldwide stood at 738,546 and the number of recorded deaths at 35,006.
Based on the early rates of infection and the predictions of some experts the global death toll from COVID-19 could surpass 500,000 with an unimaginable 200,000 possible in the US alone.
The rest of Europe, where countries reacted much more slowly than Germany, is a pandemic disaster area with Italy recording 11 per cent of deaths to infections, Spain 8.5, the Netherlands 7.1, France 6.4, the UK 6.2 and Sweden 3.0.
Iran is running at 6.8 per cent which is on a par with Egypt but well ahead of other Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia with a fatality rate of just 0.55 per cent and Qatar 0.15.
Apart from the US where cases are expected to explode in coming days, the biggest concerns are poorer nations such as Indonesia with 122 deaths from 1414 cases reported to date (8.6 per cent), the Philippines with 78 deaths and 1548 cases (5.03 per cent) and India with 29 deaths from 1070 reported cases (2.7 per cent) in a country of 1.38 billion people.
Source – World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins, other media
Ebola is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many people – thanks in no small part to Hollywood movies such as Outbreak and Contagion and yet the latest iteration of the African Ebola virus has killed just 30,000 people since 2014.
The exponential rise of rapid people movement has seen COVID-19 spread around the entire planet in just 16 weeks.
The granddaddy of all recent pandemics was the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ influenza virus between 1918 and 1920 that claimed up to an estimated 50 million lives around the world with an incredible 25 million deaths in the first 25 weeks.
The plague is also thought to have started in Asia and was carried between continents in fleas that infested the rats living on trading vessels and along the Silk Road. The disease wiped out half the population of crowded cities including Paris and Florence and a quarter of London‘s in just 18 months.
Early indications are that many of the first world citizens who populate beaches, cruise ships and aircraft have not taken the lessons of earlier contagions on board, but one message is crystal clear.
Ian McPhedran is a Sydney-based journalist, author and proud baby boomer.