At the time of writing, we in the UK are still coming to terms with COVID-19 and its implications for everyday life. We are grappling with social distancing, home working and, for those of us with children, home education with no clear end date. Many of us feel very anxious for ourselves and particularly for our vulnerable friends and relatives.
But as the virus arrives in Africa, the prospects are even more forbidding. In many communities - especially in slum areas - social distancing is all but impossible. Maintaining a two-metre distance from others, and even quarantine arrangements, is almost absurd in a context where people live almost literally on top of one another. Not to mention the difficulties in merely washing hands thoroughly in communities which share one water source between thousands of people.
Economic factors make a big difference, too. While our government is taking steps to mitigate against any financial losses we experience as a result of COVID-19, numerous Africans will not be so fortunate. Anyone who makes a living from subsistence farming - countless thousands, in other words - faces a stark choice between taking their produce to market and risking spreading the virus, or staying at home and facing financial ruin. Many will risk making the journey to market, simply because the alternative is unthinkable.
What's more, superstition and misinformation are pouring fuel on the fire. In some communities, COVID-19 is attributed to witchcraft; in others, to biological warfare between China and the US. People are uninformed and afraid.
So, please join us in praying: