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Survey shows more Covid-19 information needed across Africa


Majority of respondents in continent-wide poll believe vitamin C can prevent illness

A survey of more than 20,000 adult urban Africans from 20 countries has unveiled worrying levels of misinformation about Covid-19. For example, more than half the people surveyed said the disease could be prevented by drinking lemon juice and vitamin C. 

More than half of respondents also believed that people who have recovered from Covid-19 should be avoided. 

The results were published in a 5 May report by the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to Covid-19 (PERC), a consortium of global public health organisations and private sector firms.

The survey was carried out from 29 March to 17 April. A third of respondents said they felt they had not received enough information about the new coronavirus to make informed choices in their daily lives. “This report highlights the large information gaps on Covid-19 which exist in Africa and threaten response efforts,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, in a statement.

The survey also asked respondents whether they agreed with the closure of various gathering places and group pastimes to curb the coronavirus. Less than 5 per cent opposed the halting of sporting events, concerts, and school closures, while 30 per cent opposed market shutdowns, and 17 per cent opposed the banning of prayer gatherings. 

Such data, broken down to regional level in the report, can offer African governments information on which to base decisions about how to lift lockdowns and ensure Covid-19 curbing measures don’t place impossible restrictions on their citizens, members of the PERC grouping said. The report is the first in a series planned by PERC to guide African policymakers.

“By using data, governments can find the right balance and adapt lifesaving policies to the local context,” said Tom Frieden, president and chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, and a member of PERC.