ECA proposes 7 painless strategies for African countries to exit coronovirus lockdown
London, May 11, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has released a new report proposing seven exit strategies to African nations from various coronavirus lockdowns that helped suppress the virus but with devastating economic consequences.
At least 42 African countries applied partial or full lockdowns in their quest to curtail the pandemic.
In the new report titled; COVID-19: Lockdown exit strategies for Africa, the ECA proposes seven exit strategies that provide sustainable, albeit reduced, economic activity. The report is a combination of the exit strategies being proposed or and tried around the world but outlines the risks involved for African countries.
The exit strategies include improving testing, lockdown until preventive or curative medicines are developed, contact tracing and mass testing, immunity permits, gradual segmented reopening, adaptive triggering, as well as mitigation.
The report indicate that gradual segmented reopening may be needed in countries where containment has failed with further measures to suppress the spread of the disease being required where the virus is still spreading, the report indicated.
Under adaptive triggering nations can ease lockdown once infections decline and re-impose if they begin to rise above intensive-care capacity. These would require regular shutdowns lasting two-thirds of the year, making little difference to permanent lockdown from an economic perspective. African health-care capacity is limited meaning capacity would quickly be exceeded, potentially resulting in fatalities.
Mitigation gradually allows the infection to spread across the population with some social distancing measures in place. It is reportedly working in Sweden, where an estimated 25–40 per cent of Stockholm have contracted COVID-19, but relies on good adherence to basic social distancing measures and strong health-care capacity. This could imply considerable risk in African populations with low health-care access and unknown comorbidities.
Firms surveyed by the ECA reported to be operating at only 43 per cent; 70 per cent of slum dwellers report that they are missing meals or eating less as a result of COVID-19.
Lockdowns, the report notes, forestall severe vulnerabilities, and that testing, contact tracing and easing restrictions may be possible for countries with sufficient public health systems and that have contained COVID-19 transmission, put in place preventive measures, engaged and educated communities, and minimized risks to vulnerable groups.
Active learning and data collection can help policymakers ascertain risks across the breadth of policy unknowns as they consider recommendations to ease lockdowns and move towards a “new normal”.
ECA also noted that one of the most sensitive issues facing policymakers is the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on food security.
The report urges African nations to take advantage of being behind the curve. This may be an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other regions and their experiments in reopening; and to use the “extra time” afforded by the lockdowns to rapidly put in place testing, treatment systems, preventive measures, and carefully design lockdown exit strategies in collaboration with communities and vulnerable groups.