Stellenbosch University

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The socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on families affected by childhood respiratory illnesses in Cape Town, South Africa

posted on 2024-04-15, 08:14 authored by Michaile Michaile G. Anthony, Graeme Hoddinott, Margaret Van Niekerk, Isabelle Dewandel, Carla McKenzie, Carien Bekker, Helena Rabie, Marieke M van der Zalm

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted families globally, directly and indirectly. Children presenting with respiratory illnesses are affected by emerging health systems and socioeconomic changes in the COVID-19 era. We explored the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on families with a respiratory illness diagnosed in their child in Cape Town, South Africa. This study was nested in a prospective observational cohort of children presenting with respiratory symptoms presumptive of COVID-19. We conducted 21 semi-structured interviews to explore the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families with a child affected by respiratory illnesses. We used case descriptive analysis and thematically organised common and divergent experiences. We found that socioeconomic challenges in low-income communities were exacerbated: 1) loss of pre-COVID sources of income (loss of income, employment and working hours), 2) shrinking employment opportunities due to business closures and strict preventative measures, 3) family network dependence to cope with financial pressures, 4) impact on education, implicating additional pressures due to lack of resources for adequate home schooling and 5) caregivers’ mental health and wellbeing being impacted, causing stress and anxiety due to loss of income. This study shows that the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the socioeconomic aspects of families caring for a child with a respiratory illness. Care became more complicated and adversely impacted the family’s emotional well-being and health-seeking behaviour. These impacts should be more carefully considered in order to strengthen health services and global health messaging in future pandemics.


European Union



Stellenbosch University


Michaile G. Anthony; Graeme Hoddinott; Margaret Van Niekerk; Isabelle Dewandel; Carla McKenzie; Carien Bekker; Helena Rabie; Andrew Redfern; Marieke M. van der Zalm




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Geographical Location

South Africa, Cape town

Academic Group

  • Medicine and Health Sciences

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Recommended Citation

Anthony, MG, Hoddinott, G, Van Niekerk, M, Dewandel, I, McKenzie, C, Bekker, C, Rabie, H, Redfern, A & van der Zalm, MM. 2024. The socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on families affected by childhood respiratory illnesses in Cape Town, South Africa. Stellenbosch University. Dataset. DOI:

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