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Lockdowns in Africa: Countries must consider communal living - WHO

South Africa is on day seven of its 21-day lockdown but informal settlement dwellers say their conditions made it difficult to comply with the regulations.

A Cape Town Metro Police officer (left) directs Langa residents to remain indoors during the coronavirus lockdown on 27 March 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said lockdowns being imposed in many African countries would help to slow down the spread of the coronavirus but they must take into account the limitations of communal living and the impact on informal traders.

WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshediso Moeti said countries including South Africa and Nigeria had now imposed lockdowns.

She said the economic impact of lockdowns was a great concern and required governments to put mitigation measures in place.

South Africa is on day seven of its 21-day lockdown but informal settlement dwellers say their conditions made it difficult to comply with the regulations.

Moeti said lockdowns must be done in the context of every country.

“Physical distancing is a very important component of controlling this virus and where it is being applied in Africa, there needs to be very careful, thoughtful analysis put in place and mitigation measures to ensure these measures are feasible for the people so that people who are vulnerable don’t suffer unduly.”

Moeti says the other area of concern is the economic impact on informal traders.

“Some of the people are working as market stall holders and need to earn some money every day to be able to put food on the table – these are some of the concerns.”

She said it was also important for countries to keep borders open for trade, food and humanitarian assistance.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.