Does Ghana Have One of the Lowest COVID-19 Death Rates in Africa?

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo in his 14th national address on measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus in Ghana on Sunday July 26, 2020 said Ghana had one of Africa’s lowest COVID-19 death rates.

“Our hospitalisation and death rates have, consistently, been very low, some of the lowest in Africa and in the world. The Ghanaian people, mercifully, are not dying of the virus in the hundreds and thousands that were earlier anticipated and predicted, and that are being seen on a daily basis in some other countries….The rate of virus-related deaths has remained, persistently, low at 0.5% of confirmed cases,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Fact-checkghana.com looked into the claim and found it to be true.

Explanation: The first case of COVID-19 in Africa was recorded in Egypt on February 14, 2020. The following days saw the many other countries on the continent also recording cases. As the cases increased, the continent began to see mortalities.

The first COVID-19 death in Africa was recorded in Egypt on March 8, 2020 and it involved a 60-year-old male German tourist. As at July 29, 2020, the Africa Center for Disease Control posted a total of 871,970 positive cases in Africa with 18,475 deaths and 523,684 recoveries.

In assessing how well African countries are faring in the fight against COVID-19, various metrics are considered. These include; positivity rate, death rate, cases per million, tests per million and the rate of recoveries

In Africa, the death rate is an important metric because there exists genuine fears that the generally weak health systems and infrastructure on the continent could lead to more avoidable mortalities from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 death rate for a country shows the percentage of its confirmed cases that have died from the virus.

It is calculated by dividing the number of deaths (A) by the total number of confirmed cases (B) and then multiplying the result by 100% (C).

Therefore; A÷B × C = Death rate.

For instance, if a country with 1000 confirmed COVID-19 cases sees 10 of the cases die, their death rate will be:

10÷1000 × 100% = 1.

To test President Akufo-Addo’s claim that Ghana has one of the lowest death rates in Africa at 0.5%, we listed all 54 African countries including Ghana, looked at the number of deaths recorded and reported for each country as at Sunday July 26, 2020; the day the claim was made and measured it against the number of confirmed cases to determine their death rate.

– Data as of July 26, 2020.

– Death rates limited to two decimal places.

 Data on confirmed cases and deaths sourced from OurWorldInData

From the above table, in descending order, Ghana placed 7th out of the 54 African countries assessed.

With a death rate of 0.50% Ghana features in the top 10 of the table, putting it ahead of 47 other countries on the continent in terms of number of COVID-19 deaths relative to the total number of confirmed cases in the country.

It is therefore true that Ghana has one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in Africa.

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Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union

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