Skip to content

How Ebola Prepared Africa for Coronavirus

Dr Jonah Lipton is a, postdoctoral researcher at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, social anthropologist who unexpectedly became a specialist in the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak. In 2014 he was doing long-term fieldwork in an ordinary neighbourhood of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s bustling capital city, when the Ebola virus hit. As with coronavirus, Ebola was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization. Freetown was at the heart of the crisis. The international response had a narrow focus on containing the virus at all costs. Lipton says “We are seeing similar panic-driven responses to coronavirus. Fixation on the virus displaces attention to the – often equally serious – social, economic and political consequences of public health interventions.”