The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other crisis which is impacting the entire world and has claimed lots of lives across the world. Regardless, people have put up a brave fight against the pandemic using new-age technologies to help reduce the spread of the virus. The recent technological advancement such as artificial intelligence, telehealth, virtual collaboration and data tracking had become stepping stones to help address the virus and flatten the curve. These technologies are not only helping people fight the pandemic but may in the future change how they deal with any unprecedented situations.
The virus has caused untold suffering and people have adopted a new way of living. In these trying times, people have found new ways to maintain connections and communicate and in this regard technology has become the game-changer. People might be miles or continents apart but through technology, they share their experiences, best practice and help each other through this extremely uncertainty period.
Of greater importance is that, amidst this turbulent period and its challenges, Africa has largely followed best practice in fighting this pandemic through technology. They recently held Africa’s Webinar on COVID-19 which took the form of a virtual engagement in which communicators from the continent shared their experiences and knowledge on the collective fight against COVID-19. The discussions at the webinar also showed that communication has played a pivotal role in educating, dealing with stigma, and reassuring people that their individual actions are key to stopping the spread of the virus.
Digital platforms were used to launch COVID-19 information services and correct misinformation for example in South Africa, they set up a WhatsApp service to provide information to locals from symptoms, prevention tips and testing information and all relevant information concerning the virus. In Nigeria also, health authorities partnered with Facebook to send push notifications to users with information on symptoms and how to avoid infection and with Twitter to elevate medical information from authoritative sources.
Also, these digital platforms during COVID-19 period have helped to build more resilient societies to the pandemic as people can now access official information, enrol in e-courses, do online jobs, send money as well as receiving telemedicine no matter the place they live in. Additionally, quarantine has disrupted daily life and reduced social interaction and this is leading millions of people to meet and connect online instead. Families and friends are now catching up and socializing virtually. Educators and fitness clubs are conducting classes online and even organizations are on-boarding new employees through digital meeting platforms.