Eyder Peralta | Texas Public Radio

Eyder Peralta

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When the new coronavirus started spreading around the world, there were dire warnings about what would happen when it hit African countries.

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Uganda has implemented one of the harshest lockdowns in Africa in response to the coronavirus. But now the government is also using it to silence its critics. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

The picture is stunning. It shows One Africa Place, a bullet-shaped glass high-rise in Nairobi, framed by the jagged, snowcapped peaks of Mount Kenya.

All of the COVID-19 social distancing measures have reduced pollution so much that suddenly, the second-highest mountain in Africa, with an altitude of 17,057 feet, is visible from Kenya's capital city, about 85 miles away.

Njube Mpofu normally runs a beer garden in Zimbabwe's capital city Harare. Zimbabwe is not an easy place to run a business. Water and electricity are rationed and the dollars are hard to come by.

Almost two weeks ago, and with just eight reported cases at the time, Zimbabwe announced a three-week nationwide lockdown to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Mpofu had to close his beer garden and, he says, the situation in the country has gotten worse.

"To tell you the truth, I really don't understand how we are doing it, but somehow we seem to be surviving," he said.

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Authorities around the world have issued their own guidelines and rules designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. And as they've sought to enforce these rules, some efforts have sparked backlash and concerns about privacy.

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