‘Sustained COVID-19 lockdown exacerbates Africa’s socioeconomic perils’

Sustained COVID-19-inflicted lockdown measures exacerbated Africa’s pre-existing economic, social and mental health as well as public health challenges, a new Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) report said on Monday.

   The newly published report, entitled “Guidance on Easing of Lockdown: Considerations for Easing Public Health and Social Measures in African Union (AU) Member States,” mainly stressed the adverse effects of the sustained COVID-19 inflicted lockdown measures.

   As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent reached 382,652 as the death toll from the pandemic also rose to 9,657, according to the Africa CDC.

   The report, which argued that the rapid implementation of lockdown measures by African countries bought time to plan and prepare health services, as well as establish and expand testing capacity, outlined some of the adverse effects of large-scale public health and social measures in the African context, with due emphasis given to the social and economic condition of the people across the continent.

   Concerning the impact of COVID-19-inflicted lockdown measures on the economic front, the report stressed that the economic disruption associated with the pandemic and related mitigation measures has exacerbated pre-existing wealth disparities on the continent.

   Day laborers and people working in the informal economy do not have jobs that allow them to work from home or the resources to remain without income for extended periods of time, it argued.

   The Africa CDC also cited a “conservative forecast” by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that predicted an increase in extreme poverty this year of 84 to 132 million people, with 40-50 percent of the increase in Africa.

   “The choice between protecting livelihood and protecting life is a false one for people living at poverty level; loss of income itself will result in an increase in mortality due to deterioration in nutritional status and diminished access to care and other necessities,” the report read.

   On the social and mental health front, the impacts of prolonged closure and stay-at-home orders “are significant,” the Africa CDC said.

   “Social isolation, loss of wages, disruption of routine related to the pandemic and mitigation efforts have exacerbated mental health disorders including anxiety and depression,” the report read. -Xinhua

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