Viral flash points? Poor urban settlements are highly vulnerable to the risk of the new coronavirus

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Scene in Nairobi’s low-income Kibera settlement (photo credit: David Orgel/Flickr).

A new guest blog article published yesterday (27 Feb 2020) on the website of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) argues that:

Weak infrastructure would leave urban settlements in low-income countries highly vulnerable should the rapid spread of COVID-19 continue

The following is excerpted from the guest blog article, which was co-written by Eric Fèvre, a veterinary epidemiologist who is a joint appointee as principal scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and chair of veterinary infectious diseases at the Institute of Infection and Global Health (IGH) at the University of Liverpool, and Cecilia Tacoli, principal researcher in the Human Settlements research group at IIED.

‘. . . So far, COVID-19 has been reported in only high- and middle-income nations where effective health systems are in place, and conditions are generally sanitary. But what will happen if the disease spreads to cities in low-income nations?

‘Many low-income settlements lack basic infrastructure and services. Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, open drainage and refuse dumps are all factors attracting rodents and other parasites. These are prime reasons for the high prevalence of infectious diseases. . . .

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