Burundi takes measures to prepare against COVID-19
Although there have been no alerts of suspect cases of COVID-19, the Government of Burundi is taking proactive and precautionary measures to prepare against a potential case. The work Burundi has undertaken on Ebola preparedness has served as a strong basis for a possible response to COVID-19. Since the new virus outbreak started, health partners have been working on obtaining an emergency budget for preparedness activities as part of a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, which every country around the world is being encouraged to draft, as per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global guidelines, the ‘COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan’ (SPRP). The SPRP outlines the public health measures that need to be taken to support countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
WHO, with help from OCHA and partners, has supported the Ministry of Public Health and the Fights Against AIDS (MoH) to draft a scenario-based 72 Hour Response Plan. UN agencies and INGOs are looking at ways to support the MoH with further costs for implementing additional infection, prevention and control measures and increasing surveillance at airports and other border entry points. The MoH is awaiting a response to a funding proposal it submitted last week to the World Bank (Priority Actions to contain, detect and prevent COVID-19) requesting around 5 billion Burundian Francs (around US$2.5 million).
On Thursday 12 March, in a bid to prepare against COVID-19, the MoH amended its two-week quarantine measure to include all travellers coming from all EU countries or that have been to any EU country in the 14 days prior to arriving in Burundi. At present, roughly 35 individuals are being accommodated at Bujumbura’s government-owned Hotel Source du Nil. The public will not be permitted access to the hotel premises for the next two months at least. Prior to this plan’s enforcement, the MoH hosted a town hall awareness meeting at the hotel on 5 March, inviting its staff, police, the Government’s Civil Protection unit, and other potential frontline workers in COVID-19 response to be briefed on COVID-19 to prepare them for the days ahead. The aim of the session was to reassure the hotel staff by explaining why these precautionary measures are necessary, and what healthcare workers will do to ensure everyone on the hotel premises is protected.
Burundi’s Heads of health districts attended a briefing session last week, led by WHO and the MoH on infection prevention and control and surveillance measures against COVID-19. They are expected to cascade this information as soon as possible by organising similar briefing sessions for their health staff in their respective districts.
Today, Friday 13 March, the Resident Coordinator for Burundi led a workshop, with OCHA and WHO as focal points, to develop an internal UN contingency plan and a business continuity plan for COVID-19.
Stay up to date on COVID-19 here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
Recommendations on key preventive measures against COVID-19 can be found here: https://hr.un.org/page/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov