Niger Is the Land That Covid-19 Forgot – The Wall Street Journal

NIAMEY,NigerThis desert capitals main coronavirus ward has been empty for months and hastily erected isolation facilities are gathering dust. Masks are almost unheard of in the streets and many days go by without a single person testing positive forCovid-19. There is so little demand for vaccines that the government has sent thousands of doses abroad.

Welcome toNiger, the land that coronavirus somehow forgot.

This vast West African nationhome to one of the worlds highest birth and poverty rateswas once identifiedby the World Health Organizationas one of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak on a continent that the United Nations predicted would kill millions. Over a year later, many other countries across Africa are in the grip of the pandemics third wave, with new variants sending infections to record levels.

But whileNigeris struggling with a host of economic and security challenges, it is among a small group of nations on the southern edge of the Sahara that so far has mostly escaped the coronavirus scourge.The reasonswhich appear to include a hot and dry climate, sparsely populated and poorly connected settlements and the worlds youngest populationhavemadeNigera crucial case study for virologists studying the evolutionof Covid-19, experts say.

Doctors say the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant and the reopening of land borders in recent weeks still poses a threat to the largely unvaccinated country and its health system. But in Niamey, the quiet capital perched on the riverNiger,there is little evidence of the pandemic raging in many other countries across the continent.

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Niger Is the Land That Covid-19 Forgot - The Wall Street Journal

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