COVID-19 in Africa: The Nuances of Social Distancing and Handwashing

Source
Medical Journal of Zambia

The increasing spread of COVID-19 has necessitated enforcement of frequent hand washing, social distancing and lockdown measures as a recommended global strategy to curb community-based spread of the disease. However, pre-existing conditions in Africa impede capacity to observe hand hygiene, social distancing and lockdown.

Compliance with social distancing and handwashing is challenging in Africa due to poor urban planning in densely populated communities, food insecurity, water shortages, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, unemployment and lack of funding. The aim of this article is to unveil current challenges with social distancing and handwashing in Africa and propose innovative solutions to prevent community-based COVID-19 transmission.

One example provided is that In African slums and densely populated communities, several families share housing amenities such as toilets, kitchens and bathrooms. The demand by a large number of people to access these amenities precludes effective social
distancing, frequent handwashing and respiratory hygiene. The lack of potable water and inadequate ventilation in densely populated and poor communities further increases the risk of community transmission. Locally made hand washing amenities have supported handwashing in public places but the numbers are inadequate and hand sanitizers are expensive to purchase.