August 6, 2022

COVID-19 MITIGATION: What Lockdown and Shutdown Means?

Prof. Dr Halimu Shauri at a past function. Image ; (Courtesy

Episode 9


(Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pwani University)

The war against Corona virus is reaching peak in some countries, especially in Europe and Asia, and just beginning in Africa and the rest of the developing worlds.

In this war, especially the emergency of COVID-19, there also emerged new concepts. It’s common practice that something new also comes with old and new vocabulary that can be confusing.

The old concepts in the war include personal hygiene, washing hands, quarantine, self-quarantine, screening, testing, isolation and curfew.

These concepts seem not to be disturbing to many people because they are common and we have had an encounter with them in the course of our lives.

However, today I would like to demystify the meaning of two concepts, which look like the climax of the fight against COVID-19.

Where people don’t want to change their behavior and you use all means possible but they refuse, then they become deviants.


Most citizens in many developing countries have displayed deviant behavior by refusing to comply with government directives to stay safe.

As a result, some countries have implemented the climax and others, such as Kenya are still procrastinating.

The climax is marked by two concepts, Lockdown and Shutdown.

Western countries on lockdowns due to COVID-19 pandemic. Image; (Courtesy)

These concepts have been used interchangeably in many countries but do they mean the same or are they synonyms?

Lockdown, according to the dictionary meaning, means confining of prisoners to their cells, typically in order to regain control during a riot.

It is a state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure but enough of dictionary meaning!

With regard to mitigating COVID-19, it therefore means confining of citizens to their homes and places of residence in order to reduce or control the spread of COVID-19.


Shutdown on the other hand is defined in the dictionary as closure of a factory or system, typically a temporary closure due to a fault or for maintenance.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during his recent state of the nation address imposes a night curfew due to COVID-19. The curfew started on Friday March 27. Image; (Courtesy)

Suffice for the dictionary meaning. In the context of COVID-19 it therefore means closure of all socio-economic and political activities due to the spread of Corona virus with a view of controlling its transmission.

From the two definitions it appears that the meanings of the two COVID-19 concepts are not far apart.

In any case they are synergistic, which means they can be loosely used as it has been interchangeably.

Thus, the way lockdown and shutdown are used in relation to COVID-19 does qualify them as synonyms in this context.

However, this may be different to language experts for classroom purposes.

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