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COVID-19 in the Congo

While the whole world is suffering from the novel coronavirus, we are not suffering equally. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where health care is limited and the social safety net frayed or non-existent, poverty and famine are feared almost as much as COVID-19. But since the Congo is not quite clear from the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak, which has been raging, and now smouldering, since August 2018, authorities are not taking any chances.

My friends in my beloved city of Goma, where I lived for 6 months last year, interviewed men, women, children and teachers to see how life is affecting this city of 1.2 million souls. While there are few cases of COVID-19 in Goma, they are under lockdown while authorities try to contain the coronavirus crisis quickly. Schools are closed, the population under lockdown, international borders are closed and internal trade at a standstill. Food prices are skyrocketing while incomes plummet, as day laborers stay home or find few customers. One blessing is that everyone is familiar with frequent handwashing, through their experience of Ebola.

The worst-hit city in the Congo is the capital, Kinshasa, which is deeply worrying. If COVID-19 becomes widespread in this densely-populated city, almost 8 million people will be at risk. Pray that this country, which is not yet out of the 21-month Ebola crisis, can eradicate this new threat quickly.



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