The Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention has cautioned the continent against discrimination during this COVID-19 period. The CDC says stigmatisation will create fear and even lead to further spread of the virus.
President of the United States, Donald Trump, has been criticised for calling COVID-19, the “Chinese virus.” In Africa, the virus is largely imported, with index cases in countries being reported from foreign nationals.
This is attracting discrimination amongst foreigners.
In the video below, UN Economic Commission for Africa says that big economies on the continent, including South Africa, will suffer high economic loses because COVID-19:
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, some non-Ethiopians are reporting cases of verbal and physical attacks from some citizens. Some foreign journalists have had their pictures retrieved from their social media pages and labelled as “corona.”
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, says the virus has no nationality.
“You expect in a pandemic that there will be social harm; that people will be stigmatised, discriminated. It is up to all of us collectively to build a front against that and say that a coronavirus infection is not a death sentence. It is not something that anybody asked for and if we have to win, we have to win collectively. We cannot be discriminating people and stigmatising them. We have seen what stigmatisation has done for the fight against HIV. It only helps to weaken it. Discrimination and stigmatisation are all parts of human rights. This becomes serous human rights issue if we begin to discriminate people, profile them and attack them.”
Dr. Nkengasong says trends are showing that the epicentre of the virus can easily shift, with Europe now bearing the biggest brunt after China. He says mass testing may not be possible in Africa partly because of resources.
“If you just go out and keep testing in communities that just want to know if they have coronavirus or not, it does not help because again, we should be very careful that testing is not a coded word for. ‘I’m protected from corona’, if you are tested today it doesn’t mean that you will not be affected tomorrow. That is why target testing and appropriate testing is important.”
The African Union’s human rights body says Africa must give special focus to its young population during this time of pandemic, because they make up over 60% of the population.
Solomon Dersso, Commissioner for the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, says young people are the most active sector of society.
“Because they are also the most active sector of society. Actually, according to some studies, the youth, because they don’t know and they are socially active. They can transmit the disease or the virus ten times more than adults. According to the study conducted in South Korea, due to the public testing that they have undertaken, the youth are the ones that carry the most of the virus. Nearly one third of the public that have been tested. It is the youth and it is it’s important, therefore, a very important intervention, particularly from the side of the media to ensure that the youth actually internalise these scientific advice.”
The Africa CDC says there will be more testing kits available to Africa in the coming weeks now that three companies have started manufacturing them.