With Coronavirus pandemic affecting the economy, Burkina Faso and Ghana have reportedly eased some lockdown restrictions in a bid to test the possibility of a return to normality. According to reports, Burkina’s capital, Ouagadougou, markets had been closed since March 25 and the government on April 20 reopened one of them as a test to see if it could safely do the same with the rest by the end of the month. Due to low testing, Africa has a low number of coronavirus cases and the virus could create havoc because of the weak health systems.
However, amid the pandemic, Armand Beouinde, Ouagadougou’s
mayor opened one of the markets. Although, according to an international media report, the sellers and customers who entered the market had to wear a mask, wash their hands and have their temperature taken. Beouinde reportedly said that only two people were allowed inside shops at one time and all the shoppers also had to carry hand sanitizer.
In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo also lifted the three-week lockdown in its two main cities, where non-essential businesses reopened. President Nana reportedly said that the decision was based on an improved tracking of the disease, and to protect the economy. Due to the unprecedented pandemic, last month, Ghana also reportedly cut its 2020 GDP growth forecast from 6.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent, a rate that would represent its worst performance in nearly four decades.
Meanwhile, health experts have warned that the virus could devastate the regions that lack healthcare equipment and infrastructure. According to data from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Burkina Faso has only 11 ventilators in the country and the authorities are now worried that the virus, which has quickly overwhelmed health systems in countries with relatively advanced health systems, can devastate the countries with weaker health systems. The regional director for Africa at WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, reportedly said that the virus has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths but to also ‘unleash economic and social devastation’.
Last week, WHO also reported that there are fewer than 2,000 functional ventilators in 41 African countries and the total number of available intensive care unit beds in 43 countries is less than 5,000. Authorities are also concerned about the high prevalence of tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and diabetes in the region. Moreover, healthcare workers and experts are also concerned that the virus will hit the vulnerable population that is already dealing with complex needs.