Johannesburg (AFP) – African nations fighting the novel coronavirus face a foe as stealthy and dangerous as the microbe itself: misinformation and apathy, fuelled by deep distrust of government.
Bogus news and indifference to official warnings are emerging as giant obstacles in a region where poor healthcare infrastructure, sanitation and overcrowded slums provide fertile ground for COVID-19 to spread.
Africa has recorded nearly 2,800 cases and at least 70 deaths, according to an AFP compilation as of Thursday.
The tally may lag far behind that of other continents, but the World Health Organization (WHO), backed by the top names in medicine, has bluntly warned: “Prepare for the worst”.
African countries have begun to implement strict rules including lockdowns, curfews and even prison terms for those sharing false claims. But such measures appear futile in stopping the spread of misinformation.
AFP Fact Check in Africa has debunked dozens of claims in