Almost 70% of people across Africa said food and water would be a problem during a 14-day coronavirus lockdown, while more than half would run out of money, a new report found on Tuesday.
Countries across Africa have quickly implemented policies to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus infection, but they need to find a balance between reducing transmission while preventing social and economic disruption, according to a report conducted by global market research firm IPSOS in collaboration with the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners.
"COVID-19 is not just a health crisis; it's a political and social crisis as well," said Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong.
The new findings will help countries make strategic decisions on relaxing their lockdowns, given that the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic will hit already vulnerable populations the hardest, said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa regional director.
After interviewing almost 21,000 people from 28 cities in 20 African countries on potential COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, the report also stressed important information gaps in many nations across the continent.
One-third of respondents said they don't have enough information about the coronavirus, including on how it spreads and on how to protect themselves.
Only 44% of those interviewed across Africa believe the virus is a threat to them personally.
"This report highlights the large information gaps on COVID-19 which exist in Africa and threaten response efforts," said Moeti.
African nations faced particular hurdles during the pandemic, due to their large percentages of vulnerable populations, limited safety nets and a critical scarcity of health care workers, according to the report.
"The most successful response to COVID-19 in Africa must consider context and adaptability, and must be data-driven," said Nkengasong.