The COVID-19 pandemic in francophone West Africa: from the first cases to responses in seven countries

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Abstract

Background: In early March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit West Africa. In response, countries in the region quickly set up crisis management committees and implemented drastic measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The objective of this article is to analyse the epidemiological evolution of COVID-19 in seven Francophone West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal) as well as the public health measures decided upon during the first 7 months of the pandemic. Methods: Our method is based on quantitative and qualitative data from the pooling of information from a COVID-19 data platform and collected by a network of interdisciplinary collaborators present in the seven countries. Descriptive and spatial analyses of quantitative epidemiological data, as well as content analyses of qualitative data on public measures and management committees were performed. Results: Attack rates (October 2020) for COVID-19 have ranged from 20 per 100,000 inhabitants (Benin) to more than 94 per 100,000 inhabitants (Senegal). All these countries reacted quickly to the crisis, in some cases before the first reported infection, and implemented public measures in a relatively homogeneous manner. None of the countries implemented country-wide lockdowns, but some implemented partial or local containment measures. At the end of June 2020, countries began to lift certain restrictive measures, sometimes under pressure from the general population or from certain economic sectors. Conclusion: Much research on COVID-19 remains to be conducted in West Africa to better understand the dynamics of the pandemic, and to further examine the state responses to ensure their appropriateness and adaptation to the national contexts.

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Bonnet, E., Bodson, O., Le Marcis, F., Faye, A., Sambieni, N. E., Fournet, F., … Ridde, V. (2021). The COVID-19 pandemic in francophone West Africa: from the first cases to responses in seven countries. BMC Public Health, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11529-7

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