What have African countries been doing to stop the spread of coronavirus?

WHAT IS BEING PUT IN PLACE TO STOP THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS?

Many measures are being put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. Governments and health organisations are promoting ‘social distancing’ or ‘physical distancing’. Physical distancing involves remaining 2 metres away from other people. This is because the coronavirus can be spread through close contact. We have written an article all about physical distancing.

Governments around the world have been closing shops, restaurants, gyms, cafes and other areas where people come into close contact with one another to encourage social distancing. Many public events have also been banned, such as the Next Einstein Forum in Nairobi and the African CEO Forum in Abidjan.

Governments around the world are now also implementing ‘lockdowns’, which involved shutting all non-essential services, reducing public transport, encouraging people to work from home, and requesting that people limit the amount of time they spend out of their homes. Lockdowns do not come with a set time frame – they can continue for as long as the government sees fit.

Lockdowns can refer to anything from mandatory (you must do it) quarantines within certain areas to non-mandatory recommendations (you are recommended to do it, but not required to) to stay at home, closures of certain types of businesses, or bans on events and gatherings. Decisions about beginning and ending lockdowns are very difficult decisions to make.

WHAT ARE AFRICAN COUNTRIES DOING?

Travel Restrictions

Many African countries put travel restrictions in place early on in the epidemic to try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. These included South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana and others. This was so that people infected with the novel coronavirus could not enter the country and spread it to other people.

Banning large gatherings

Some governments are banning large public gatherings. Gatherings of over 50 people will be banned and bars, night clubs, gyms and swimming pools will be closed. This has happened in cities in Nigeria, Kenya, and elsewhere. This has been happening since mid-March. Around this time, Uganda also banned weddings and religious gatherings.

Banning religious gatherings can seem very cruel, but in South Korea, authorities traced one woman who had infected 37 people at her church with the novel coronavirus.  She is now known as a ‘super-spreader’. Those 37 people went on to infect many others themselves. Some of those who were infected have died. South Korea then experienced a spike in novel coronavirus case numbers. Because religious gatherings are usually very large, they are an excellent way for the virus to spread. This is why banning large gatherings, particularly religious gatherings, is important. Religious communities around the world have been connecting online and finding ways to worship from home.

Lockdowns

For example, on March 26th, South Africa went into lockdown for 21 days, to start with. South Africa has the most cases of coronavirus out of all African countries. This lockdown has recently been extended until the end of April. During this lockdown, most South African industries are shut, other than essential services. These essential services include those in food and distribution, telecommunications and electricity, and safety and security. South Africans have been staying at home and avoiding physical contact during this lockdown. The South African National Defense Force has also been deployed to assist the South African Police service during the lockdown.

In mid-March, lockdown measures were put in place in Lagos, Nigeria – Africa’s largest city. Public gatherings of more than 50 people were also banned and schools were closed. The lockdown was due to end on Monday 27th April, but the Nigerian Medical Association has advised the Federal Government to again extend the lockdown. They believe extending the lockdown would help to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and therefore save lives, as the number of cases in Lagos rises rapidly every day, even with lockdown measures in place.

We will soon be writing case studies on specific African countries and cities.

REMEMBER

It is important to follow the rules and advice given by governments and health organisations. The governments and health organisations are trying to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Following these rules will help to save many lives.

Marwin Ramos

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