Update: The Media and Covid-19 in West Africa (April 13 – April 19, 2020)

This week, the number of individuals infected with the coronavirus in West Africa reached 4803.

Since the coronavirus outbreak hit the shores of Sub-Saharan Africa, human right groups have issued several warnings against the violation of civil liberties by security agencies and published reports on police brutality. Local human rights groups indicated in a report that in Nigeria, eighteen people were killed by law enforcement officers in a bid to enforce measures aimed at curbing the outbreak.

Early this week, the Voice of America (VOA) in a report highlighted the growing trends of attacks on journalists across the world, and the coronavirus being used as an excuse to justify the violation of press freedom.

A report by the regional freedom of expression advocacy organisation, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), also highlighted the several cases of attacks on journalists including the arrest of twelve reporters in relation to the COVID-19.

The media industry is increasingly bearing the brunt of governmental measures to flatten the infection curve as the declaration of a State of Emergency in Liberia triggered the Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) to announce the suspension of their print publications.

As part of efforts to contain the pandemic, governments of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea made the wearing of mask mandatory, and prescribed fines for individuals flouting the directive.

In Ghana, technology made its way in the fight against the outbreak following the launch of a mobile application to tack individuals infected with the virus. In Gambia, the government opened a national call centre which can allow citizen to easily access COVID-19 related information.

Read more on the financial implication of the coronavirus for Africa, and how citizens in Burkina Faso are being tormented by two evils.

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