Coronavirus in Africa: Could poverty explain mystery of low death rate?
That was the headline in a story by BBC’s Africa Correspondent Andrew Harding reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa on the low infection rates of COVID-19 in the continent. The headline has now been retracted following scathing criticism from Africans across the board.
The new headline now reads: Coronavirus in South Africa: Scientists explore surprise theory for low death rate?
BBC has found itself issuing apologies in the last few years after publishing stories deemed to be racially insensitive or bearing headlines that rubbed Africans the wrong way. The situation here was no different.
Andrew Harding’s story which features scientific expert opinions seeks to explore why Africa has reported low infection rates & why cases in the continent are declining at a much faster rate compared to foreign countries.
“Population density is such a key factor. If you don’t have the ability to social distance, the virus spreads,” the story quotes Professor Salim Karim, the head of South Africa’s ministerial advisory team on COVID-19.
“But some experts are now posing the question, what if the opposite is also true? What if those same crowded conditions also offer a possible solution to the mystery that has been unresolved for months? What if those conditions – they are asking – could prove to give people in South Africa, and in similar settings globally, some extra protection against COVID-19?” the reporter poses.
As indicated earlier, this is the second time this week the broadcaster has retracted its reportage within one week following torrents of outrage across the African continent.
On August 28, the BBC was forced to retract the description of newly African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina as “Flamboyant” after he secured another term at the helm of the bank.
“Flamboyant Nigerian banker Akinwumi Adesina has been re-elected chairman of the African Development Bank (AfDB) after weathering a political storm over allegations of corruption,” the news organisation had reported on the re-election of Mr Adesina.
Mr. Adesina before his re-election had been accused by whistleblowers of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct. But the bank found the allegations to be “frivolous” and cleared him after conducting its investigations.
Locally, the broadcaster was forced to apologize to Kenyan socialite and Former Nairobi Diaries Star Bridgette Achieng following backlash after the actor accused the publisher of portraying her as a prostitute in a documentary titled Shuga.
Ms. Achieng in an interview with a local publication revealed that she had shot two months’ worth of content with the BBC only for it to be reduced to a few minutes into the documentary which maligned her reputation.
The broadcaster apologized and re-edited the documentary after a social media pile-on that sided with Ms. Achieng.
Last month, the BBC apologized for airing an uncensored racial slur in a news segment, after initially defending the use of the word in a report broadcasted in July.
Social Affairs Correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the N-word in a segment on an apparently racially aggravated assault in the city of Bristol, sparking more than 18,600 complaints from viewers.
“The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output,” Tony Hall, The Director-General of the BBC said in a statement.