In DRC about 3300 people have tested positive for the novel virus. Out of this, the majority are from Kinshasa. The COVID-19 cases are accelerating at an extremely alarming rate daily with over 100 people testing positive each day. One of the major obstacle is denial.
Depending on the number of cases the country records,90% of people succumb, especially in Kinshasa.
Corona is thriving in DRC because most people are living in denial. Most of the residents assume that corona is just a belief. They blatantly ignore and go about their business as usual.
When cautioned that the novel virus indeed is real, Congolese especially from the locals reply that there is no such thing as the corona. They have so much doubt and disinterest. And it appears changing their perception about COVID is close to impossible.
As Mamie, a worker with the charity organization walks down the streets of Kimbanseke cautioning people using a loud amplifier, residents appear to ignore her presence.
Battling corona among ignorant residents
The Caritas works in association with two ethnic groups, Locha and Filimbi, creating awareness and distributing masks to the locals.
During their battle with corona, they meet ignorant locals who criticize and disapprove of their campaign. In the streets of Victoire and Selembao, locals condemned and screamed at them saying there was no corona in their mother tongue.
A resident said that corona was a China Europe virus and Congo was free from it. Adding that they were only prone to malaria and ordinary fever.
Participating in endorsements can be a battle especially when dealing with uninformed persons but then one should never despair.
Meanwhile, as some rejected the masks, most accepted. One of the locals revealed he took the mask as a precaution to refrain from paying a fine of $2.6.
Poverty and Mistrust
Alphase, a 43-year-old man says he is aware that corona exists although hasn’t heard that any of his neighbors have contracted or died from it.
The same misconception was all over Europe and the US. However, it was not until it hit the continent strongly that Europeans believed it existed.
Lack of awareness in DRC is because of poverty and mistrust. Amid Ebola pandemic, the situation wasn’t any better esp. in the poverty-stricken areas. Their government doesn’t have a good strategy when it comes to the management of crisis.
Most of the residents relying on informal jobs are currently surviving at the expense of emergency relief measures their president initiated.
“They’ve closed the schools, the churches, the markets. They want to kill us bit by bit. Tell the president to scrap his measures, we don’t want them, we just want to live,” a woman said in Kimbanseke, loudly applauded by a crowd that quickly gathered around her.
The government has contributed to the public’s reluctance because of the mistrust existing between them.
The government provided falsified information on the first coronavirus case they confirmed in the country. They stated it was a Belgian while indeed it was a Congolese who had been staying in France. Misinformation destroyed the transparency that existed between the two making it had to win the public’s trust.
To recover from the mistrust is a real challenge that the government has to face especially since the virus is there to stay and is killing people.
Most of the highly ranked government officials have succumbed to the novel virus in the country.
The Minister of Economy lost a brother and sister who were both members of his cabinet. Jacques Ilunga, a political power broker, Charles Kilosho, Deputy head of the president’s communication team all died.
Rumors have it that these members died because of malicious reasons since they are also from the president’s cycle. Sources say they were poisoned.
Scientifically, there is no proof or evidence to back they were poisoned. Hence it assumed they died from the corona.