More than two-thirds of over 4,500 Africans reached by GeoPoll across 12 nations have reported they are self-quarantining to prevent the risks and spread of coronavirus.
Yet, as Africans retreat into their homes, they are worried about food and their economies to almost as great a degree as they are worried about the global pandemic.
In a survey administered remotely through GeoPoll’s mobile-based research platform, it was found that 80 per cent of respondents were frightened about coronavirus spreading in their countries, but 71 per cent said they were also ‘very concerned’ about its economic impact.
The degree of health fears in each nation appeared related to the level of quarantine now in place. For while 63 per cent of Africans believe they are at risk of contracting the virus, Rwandans judge themselves to be at the lowest risk, at 37 per cent, in a situation where 90 per cent have self-quarantined.
Conversely, in countries such as Mozambique and Zambia, which report lower rates of self-quarantining, citizens feel far more vulnerable, with over 80 per cent in each of these countries believing they and their families are at risk.
Such fears across nations with limited ICU capacity and often scant supplies of oxygen has wrought other changes of behavior, with 54 per cent of respondents increasing hygiene and hand washing, and 50 per cent avoiding public places.
There are also rising concerns over food supplies. Most of the Africans polled reported that they were shopping for food less often, while just 20 per cent reported that all food markets around them are currently operational. Additionally, more than 85 per cent of respondents in the DRC, Rwanda and Kenya have worried in the last seven days that they would not have enough to eat.
“A health crisis such as coronavirus hitting vulnerable populations can have devastating effects on development, food supplies and resources. Reliable data is needed to accurately track on-the-ground situations, and using our remote mobile methodologies GeoPoll was able to gather valuable information quickly and safely,” said Nicholas Becker, GeoPoll CEO.
“Some governments in Africa have been proactive about lockdowns in order to prevent the virus from quickly spreading through densely populated areas, but coronavirus is already present in many African nations, and this study shows there is a fear that the worst is yet to come.”
There is a growing concern that many nations in Africa are poorly prepared for a pandemic as easily transmissible as COVID-19. This has triggered widely different approaches and very different levels of public support. In Rwanda, 81 per cent of respondents believe their government has done enough to stop the spread of the virus, as do 60 per cent in Uganda, but in Zambia, Nigeria and Kenya, less than a third are confident enough has been done.