Lockdown reduced cases of Covid-19 by 40 per cent in African countries, the global health organisation has revealed.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the prompt action by governments to implement lockdowns and physical distancing, alongside effective public health measures to test, trace and treat have slowed down the spread of the virus.
Rwanda was the first country to institute lockdown on March 21, which has since been lifted.
Some 22 countries in the continent instituted partial to total lockdown.
According to WHO analysis, as reported on April 30, preliminary data indicate that implemented nationwide lockdowns found that the weekly increase in the number of new cases fell significantly from a 67 per cent rise in the first week after lockdown to a 27 per cent rise in the second week.
The analysis also shows that countries which implemented partial and targeted lockdown – like Kenya – along with effective health measures have been even more effective at slowing down the virus.
Risk losing the gains
“National and regional lockdowns have helped to slow down the spread of Covid-19, but it remains a considerable public health threat,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.
She added: “Lockdowns are being eased in some parts of Africa, but we cannot just revert to how things were before the outbreak. If governments abruptly end these measures, we risk losing the gains countries have made so far against Covid-19.”
Apart from Rwanda, South Africa and Ghana also eased lockdown restrictions. Some public health measures are however still in place, like mandatory wearing of masks in Rwanda and ban of non-essential travel across provinces in South Africa.
Ghana was the first country in the continent to relax lockdown.
To date, Africa has recorded more than 36,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 1,500 deaths. WHO lists West and Central Africa as regions of concern where so far, there are 11,000 cases, and 300 people have died.
WHO noted that in mid-April, cases increased by 113 per cent in Central Africa and 42 per cent in West Africa.
“We are still analysing the data. If further research corroborates our initial findings that targeted lockdowns, based on data and accompanied by public health measures contribute to flattening the Covid-19 curve, this could help balance the huge social costs of these measures for countries,” said Dr Moeti.