Covid-19 in Africa: the little we know and the lot we ignore
Publication date: 18/06/2020 – E&P Code: repo.epiprev.it/1827
Authors: Sandro Colombo1, Rino Scuccato1, Antonello Fadda1, Amélia Jossai Cumbi1
Abstract: Covid-19 has stirred up an information deluge that challenges our capacity to absorb and make sense of data. In this unrelenting flow of information, Africa has been largely off the radar, escaping the attention of the scientific literature and the media. International agencies have been the exception: despite the still low numbers of cases and deaths, they have voiced concerns, often in catastrophic terms, on the health, economic and social impacts of Covid-19 in African countries. These concerns contrast sharply with the optimistic view that Africa may be spared the worst consequences of the pandemic.
This paper provides a snapshot of a crisis in evolution: its features could change as new data become available and our understanding improves. The paper examines the epidemic trends, the health impact, the containment measures and their possible side effects. Africa has a long experience of responding to epidemics: relevant lessons learned are outlined. The picture of the epidemic and its narrative are heterogenous, given the differing vulnerabilities of African countries and the diverse contexts within their borders. The paper, therefore, singles out selected countries as illustrative of specific situations and advocates for a transnational and subnational approach to future analyses.
The virus has shown a strong capacity to adapt; therefore, a response strategy, in order to be effective, needs to be flexible and able to adapt to changes. The paper concludes with the recommendation that affected communities should be engaged in the response, to maintain or build trust. A lesson from the Ebola outbreak of a few years ago was that epidemiologists and community leaders learned, after initial difficulties, how to dialogue and work together.
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