Nigeria Coronavirus

People's temperatures are measured at a border between Abuja and the Nasarawa State on March 30, 2020. (KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

With 11,000 cumulative cases confirmed in Africa as of today, the novel coronavirus pandemic is expanding across the continent. It may only be a matter of time before the number of cases begins to resemble that of Europe, or even the United States.

As the number of infections and deaths grow daily, so also does public anxiety, particularly in rural areas where primary health care is often lacking. The continent, just like the rest of the world, is struggling to contain the spread of the virus. But the problem is made worse by a familiar enemy during pandemics: misinformation.

When COVID-19 first appeared in major cities in sub-Saharan Africa, messages on social media—especially broadcasts on WhatsApp—prescribing phony coronavirus cures and self-check methods began to go viral. Many of these messages encouraged citizens to act in contradiction to the advice of public health authorities. Read more