Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report

Highlights

  • South Africa continues to report the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the African continent.
  • Inadequate access to personal protective equipment or weak infection prevention and control measures raise the risk of health worker infection.
  • In East Africa, 92 per cent of working women are employed in the informal sector, heightening the risks they face of sexual exploitation and abuse due to economic vulnerability.
  • Reports of gender-based violence have increased. However, service providers are not always being recognized as essential workers and women's organizations are underfunded.
  • The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan is just 23 per cent funded. More resources are urgently needed to enable partners to scale-up their response.
COVID-19 map

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report

Key Figures

813,600
total cases in the region (as of 31 Aug)
17,940
total deaths
26
countries affected in the region

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Contacts

Guiomar Pau Sole

Head, Communications & Information Management Unit

Saviano Abreu

Communications Team Leader

Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Background

Important notice to all readers

This COVID-19 Regional Digest has been discontinued on 31 August 2020. You can continue to find updated data on COVID-19 cases in the Eastern and Southern Africa countries on our online dashboard, and useful links to other related information under the specific countries below.

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Angola — Trends

Government replaces the State of Emergency by a State of Calamity

  • First case: 19 March 2020

  • Total cases: 1,109 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 51

  • Schools: Closed (affecting nearly 8.7 million learners).

  • Borders/flights: All international flights cancelled effective from 20 March 2020. All land borders closed.

  • Containment measures: National State of Emergency declared on 27 March and replaced by State of Calamity on 26 May; domestic travel allowed only for seeking/providing essential services; 14-day self-quarantine for those who had contact with symptomatic people.

Situation:

Angola had confirmed that over 1,100 people contracted COVID-19 in the country, including 51 who died from the disease, as of 1 August. The Government replaced on 26 May the State of Emergency declared two months before over the coronavirus outbreak by a State of Calamity. The new measure will be in place until further notice and, according to the Government, will enable the country to gradually open its economic and social activities while keeping specific COVID-19 prevention rules. Angola’s capital Luanda, the only region reportedly with active cases of COVID-19, remains under sanitary cordon during the State of Calamity, and closed for movements in and out of the city. Essential service providers, humanitarian workers and people seeking medical assistance are allowed to cross Luanda’s borders. The rest of the country will resume activities in a phased manner, with shops, hotels, factories, farming and fisheries already allowed to operate. The plan to reopen schools on 13 July has been postponed. When the State of Emergency was previously declared, all non-essential internal travel, meetings and public activities had been banned and all schools closed. International flights to and from Angola were suspended on 20 March and the country has also prohibited circulation of people at land borders during the same period. Docking and disembarkation of cargo ships and crew members for medical assistance and humanitarian reasons remain operational.

Separately, on 5 May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Government to release detainees and improve the capacity to prevent and respond to coronavirus cases in the overcrowded prisons across the country to prevent a health disaster. In a statement, HRW also denounced that the country is allegedly arresting and placing hundreds of people in custody for low-level crimes, leading to a daily influx of new detainees. The Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly apologized, during a public statement on 9 June, to injured citizens and families who have lost their relatives due to excessive force from Defence and National Security officers during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to media reports. At least 10 police officers accused of killing citizens during the State of Emergency implemented since 27 March have reportedly been arrested, with their criminal cases forwarded to prosecutors, according to the Ministry, quoted by the media. Under the State of Calamity implemented on 26 May, some 1,671 citizens have been arrested by the Defence and Security forces.

COVID-19 has arrived in Angola at a time when much of the population was already struggling to meet their basic needs. In 2018-2019, southern Angola experienced a devastating drought - with temperatures the highest seen in 45 years - driving increasing hunger and malnutrition, especially in Cunene, Huíla, Bié and Namibe provinces. Angola is also facing macro-economic challenges following multiple consecutive years of economic contraction since 2014, when the country was hit by the oil price crisis. At least 40.6 per cent of the population live below the national poverty line, and nearly 1 in 2 people (47.6 per cent) live below the international poverty line of US$1.9 per day. COVID-19 is expected to exacerbate the situation for the most vulnerable, with 72.6 per cent of the population relying on informal employment.

Response:

  • The Government has approved a National Contingency Plan to Control the Epidemic.

  • Additional health care spending to mitigate COVID-19, estimated at US$40 million, has been announced and tax exemptions on humanitarian aid and donations have been granted.

  • A contingent of over 250 health professionals sent from Cuba on 10 April completed quarantine and has been deployed across the country.

  • The Ministry of Social Action, Family and Women Empowerment will disburse AOA 315 million (nearly US$562,500) to support food distribution to vulnerable groups.

  • UN entities in Angola have reallocated $16 million to support the Government-led response to COVID-19, including $12.5 million for the health response and $3.5 million for food security in Namibe, Huila, Cunene and Cuando Cubango provinces.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health

Other links:

Potential Socioeconomic Impact of COVID-19 in Angola: A Brief Analysis, by UNHABITAT/UNDP

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

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Situation Report
Botswana — Trends

Greater Gaborone under lockdown

  • First case: 30 March

  • Total cases: 804 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 2

  • Schools: Reopening gradually since 2 June (609,146 learners affected)

  • Flights/Borders:  Closed since 16 March for specific countries, and totally closed since 2 April, except for nationals returning home.

  • Containment measures: State of Emergency declared from 2 April 2020 and extended for the next six months; most restrictions were lifted on 21 May, but some measures must be observed, including the use of masks, and permits are needed to travel across regions. On 14 July, the Government lifted the ban on holding public meetings, workshops and conferences with no more than 75 persons are in attendance. A lockdown has been declared for Greater Gaborone from 30 July to 13 August.

Situation:

Botswana confirmed that 804 people in the country had contracted COVID-19 and two have died, as of 1 August. Although the gradual lifting of restrictions was concluded by the Government on 20 May, the State of Public Emergency declared on 2 April has, however, been extended by the Parliament for six months. The use of face masks is mandatory in public transport and shared spaces.

The country has been divided into nine containment zones that will be used to restrict movements by specific areas and allow swift responses in the event of additional COVID-19 outbreaks. Travels across zones require previous authorization.

On 14 July, the Government lifted the ban on holding of public meetings, workshops and conferences with no more than 75 persons in attendance and that they do not travel across COVID-19 zones for the purpose of the meeting, according to media reports. For purposes of contact tracing, registers containing the personal and contact details of all persons accessing the premises must be maintained and open for inspection by health officials or law enforcement officers.

Public schools started to re-open in a phased manner from 2 June, according to the Permanent Secretary for Basic Education, quoted by the media. Private schools resumed activities since 15 May, according to the media. The Government informed that hand-washing facilities are being installed at the schools and thermometers will be delivered. Schools are reportedly procuring face masks and parents will supposedly have to buy them at a subsidized price, according to the media.

A lockdown for Greater Gaborone Zone has been declared from 30 July to 13 August, after a spike in the number of cases, after the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force confirmed a surge of local COVID-19 positive cases, which affected a number of education institutions in the Greater Gaborone Area.

Response:

  • The Government has established the COVID-19 Relief Fund encourages the private sector, individuals and organizations to contribute.

  • An economic package was approved, and will facilitate loans by commercial banks to businesses mostly affected by COVID-19 and give tax concessions to businesses in eligible sectors.

  • From 20 April, the Government informed it will start a massive screening campaign across all regions, while implementing measures to ensure that citizens have sufficient potable water and sanitation services.

Official sources:

Botswana Government Official Twitter and Botswana Government website

Presidential address declaring the State of Emergency - 31 March

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Situation Report
Burundi — Trends

Government increases testing capacity

  • First case: 31 March 2020

  • Total cases: 431 (as of 27 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 1

  • Schools: Open (except for the French and Belgian schools)

  • Flights/Borders: All international passenger flights and visa issuance suspended on 22 March, except for cargo, humanitarian aid, diplomatic community and ambulance flights. WFP Humanitarian Air Service is authorized and organizing inbound and outbound passengers flights for humanitarians and related services. The land borders, temporarily closed with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, have been reopened on 15 April to allow the movement of goods and commodities. The border with Tanzania has remained open for the movement of goods and for the return of Burundians in their country.

  • Containment measures: Since July, travellers arriving in Burundi are allowed to forgo any quarantine if they can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours. Those without proof are required to undergo a self-financed 14-day quarantine. Burundian refugees returning from Tanzania within the voluntary repatriation programme are exempt from this quarantine measure, except for those displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

Situation:

In Burundi, 431 people had contracted COVID-19 , including one person who died from disease, as of 27 August. The virus has spread throughout the border provinces and the capital Gitega in the centre of the country, however Bujumbura Mairie province retains the highest number of cases. On 6 July, the new Government rolled out a three-month mass testing campaign in the provinces of Bujumbura Mairie & Rural, Ruyigi and Gitega. The campaign, spearheaded by the country’s newly elected President, is called "I heal, do not contaminate myself and do not contaminate others". Three screening sites have been set up throughout the capital, Bujumbura city. As of 10 August, the country had conducted 17,306 tests. The Minister of Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS has requested that people wear masks, particularly in places where they gather.

According to Ministry of Public Health reports, at least 32 health-care professionals have tested positive. Meanwhile, unofficial reports continue to indicate an increase in admissions of patients to hospitals with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, as well as multiple deaths due to respiratory failure. There are reports that many people who have been confined (without proof of a negative test) in hotels, motels, or other Government designated buildings do not have the financial capacity to complete their 14-day quarantine. In addition, the lack of triage and isolation facilities, the inadequate logistical and operational capacity of rapid response teams and other frontline health workers, as well as the shortage of safe water, sanitation and hygiene equipment throughout the country constrains the response effort. A decrease has been noted in the use of reproductive health, maternal and neonatal services. UNHCR has resumed voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees–a task that has been greatly encouraged by the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania.

Heavy rains and flooding between April and May caused destruction of key infrastructure and affected around 50,000 people across the country, most of whom are displaced, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmissions in temporary camps. In Bujumbura Rural Province alone, a hospital, three health facilities and a COVID-19 isolation centre were flooded, disrupting key health services. Meanwhile, the Government and partners have been working to increase training of health personnel in the detection, diagnosis, and surveillance of respiratory diseases, as well as hygiene awareness among the population. This is especially important to protect the most vulnerable groups in the country, including internally displaced people, returnees, host communities and over 1.7 million severely food-insecure people.

Separately, on 14 May the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi called on the Government to act with transparency and comply with the international standards of human rights and humanitarian assistance during the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The statement came after the Foreign Ministry declared on 13 May the country's WHO representative in Burundi and three health experts working in the UN emergencies team "persona non grata" and as such, ordered the four members to leave the territory of Burundi over an alleged disagreement on the management of the pandemic.

Response:

  • In parallel to the Strategic Response Plan developed by the WHO and partners, a contingency plan has been prepared by the Government, requesting US$58.2 million. To date, over $15 million has been pledged or made available for the COVID-19 response efforts. Some partners are also in the process of reprogramming and reallocating the Ebola funding towards the COVID-19 response.

  • The National Steering Committee for Public Health Emergency Management, chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS, has been reactivated, together with pillar-based technical working groups.

  • Health authorities are screening travellers and have supplied laboratories with COVID-19 testing kits, however both require enhancements.

  • A campaign has been launched to tell people about the COVID-19 preventive measures and a hotline is answering questions from the public. The service is however overwhelmed, and a call centre with greater capacity is needed.

  • To learn more about the COVID-19 situation in Burundi and its humanitarian impact, check out the OCHA Burundi Situation Report, available in English and French.

  • Humanitarian partners continue to strengthen the Ministry of Health's capacity to combat COVID-19 by providing training for laboratory technicians, donating medical equipment, facilitating the transport of medical equipment and providing computers that can be used for the surveillance system. Current priorities include advocating for greater government involvement in coordination, better information sharing, supporting the mass screening campaign, and setting up the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHOC).

  • UNDP has recently contributed by providing to the MSPLS with a grant consisting of 14 million masks, 3 VG70 respirators, 30 motorcycles, 6 (four-wheel drive) vehicles and various other computer equipment’s to assist with the country’s surveillance system. WHO is supporting the Government by providing national training in capacity building of laboratory technicians in the area of laboratory diagnostics and safe sample collection and transportation for the staff of the COVID-19 testing campaign. IOM and UNICEF are covering the day to day operational costs of the mass testing campaign underway (such as daily subsistence allowances of front-line health care workers) as well as provision of tests kits.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Minister of Health Twitter

Other links

OCHA Burundi – COVID-19 Information page – Humanitarian Response

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Situation Report
Comoros — Trends

Challenges in scaling up testing capacity as COVID-19 patients rise

  • First case: 30 April

  • Total cases: 405 (as of 16 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 7

  • Schools: Closed (277,099 learners affected)

  • Flights/Borders: All international passenger flights suspended; only cargo accepted. Sea travel between islands suspended.

  • Containment measures: Mandatory quarantine for travellers from countries with COVID-19 confirmed cases. COVID-19 negative certificate needed to enter the country. Multiple measures taken to restrict gatherings.

Situation

The Comoros registered its first case of a person with COVID-19 on 30 April. Since then, the total number of COVID-19 infections reached 405, with seven deaths, as of 16 August, according to WHO. About a quarter of new COVID-19 patients had returned from neighbouring countries, such as Tanzania and Madagascar. Until the confirmation of the first case, the Government had no testing capacity, which raised alarms of a possible unreported coronavirus outbreak in some of the islands. The first testing centre started operations at the end of April, after the Government informed it had received the equipment and supplies on 23 April. Although the Government has been receiving donations of medical supplies to support the pandemic response, the country is still facing challenges to scale up its testing capacity, according to humanitarians in the country. All passengers arriving in the country are currently required to have a PCR negative test result or must undergo testing on site and quarantined until results are received. All who test negative will be allowed to proceed home while still followed up with by a surveillance team for a period of 14 days.

President Azali Assoumani announced on 26 April an indefinite nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to strengthen other precautionary measures imposed since 20 March. The country suspended all international commercial passenger flights from 20 March and the National Agency for Maritime Affairs restricted all movements of people coming from any nation that reported a coronavirus outbreak. Sea travels between Comoros’ islands have also been suspended until further notice. All public festivities and gatherings have been suspended until further notice, including any collective prayers at the mosques. Weddings are restricted to no more than 20 people and burials to only family members, relatives of the deceased, and residents of the villages concerned.

Response

  • On 4 June, the Government informed that WHO Regional Office for Africa deployed a team of 14 experts to support the national human resources in response to COVID-19, following a request from the Minister of Health. The group includes epidemiologists, laboratory managers, pulmonologists, infectologists and resuscitators, among others.

Official sources:

Government COVID-19 webpage

Other links:

U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros - 18 April Health Advisory

Worldometer's COVID-19 data

Which countries have not reported any coronavirus cases, by Al Jazeera

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

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Situation Report
Djibouti — Trends

Government eases some restrictions, reopens the airport

  • First case: 17 March 2020

  • Total cases: 5,374 (as of 19 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 59

  • Schools: Closed, affecting over 142,000 learners. Classes continue through distance learning.

  • Borders/Flights:  Passenger flights, stopped on 8 March, and resumed on 17 July. Cargo flights, port operations and shipments continue to proceed normally, with some delays as most cargo arrives on commercial flights.

  • Containment measures: Quarantine mandatory for those who have had contact with positive cases; lockdown restricting of movements and closure of all non-essential services declared on 24 March and relaxed on 17 May, allowing most businesses to operate normally.

Situation:

With 5,374 cases confirmed as of 19 August, the country has been experiencing a downward trend in the daily number of patients contracting COVID-19 since mid-June, partly due to a lower number of tests conducted. Djibouti is the country with the highest prevalence of the disease in the continent. Recent rains and floods across the country have affected more than 110,000 people and displaced many of them, increasing the risk of community transmission. On 10 May, the Government announced the gradual lift of COVID-19-related restrictions from 17 May, when the extended State of Emergency expired. Most business and economic activities were allowed to resume, following specific guidelines, including the use of mask and social distance. The lockdown was imposed on 23 March, with all stores closed with the exception of food markets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations. Schools have also been closed, affecting 142,564 learners countrywide. The Government reopened the airport for commercial flights on 17 July, which had been closed since 8 March. While cargo flights continued to operate normally, UNHAS operations were suspended.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the country’s recent socio-economic progress in jeopardy. The country’s real GDP in 2020 is forecast to contract by 3.8 per cent, threatening as many as 40,000 jobs, according to media reports.

Response:

  • The Ministry of Health and its partners have increased their preparedness by building surveillance, testing, quarantine and health worker capacity. WHO has delivered protective and medical equipment, including tests and respirators.

  • On 9 April, the United Nations organized a virtual conference on COVID-19, with the participation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the spokesperson for the Government, the Minister for the Economy and Finance, religious leaders, the representative of WHO and the United Nations Resident Coordinator. The conference discussed Government and UN response actions to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • On 24 July, the African Development Bank approved grants worth approximately US$41.16 million to Djibouti to bolster the national budget in support of Government’s efforts to mitigate national and regional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will enable the Government to support response programs to enhance health systems, safeguard livelihoods and provide social protection; and defend labour force productivity and economic activity.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health website

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

United Nations Country Team in Djibouti - Situation Reports

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Situation Report
Trends

Democratic Republic of The Congo

Government lifts COVID-19 state of emergency

  • First case: 10 March 2020

  • Total cases: 8,626 (as of 22 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 197

  • Schools: Closed

  • Borders/flights: All borders closed

  • Containment measures: State of emergency lifted on 22 July. National and international air traffic will reopen on 15 August.

Situation:

On 21 July, President Tshisekedi announced that the health state of emergency, that was imposed in mid-March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is lifted in phases, starting today, 22 July. Among other things, national and international air traffic will reopen on 15 August, a move that will facilitate the movement of aid workers. Many local analysts believe that the lifting of measures is in response to a dire economic situation, rather than an indication that the country has control over the disease. More than 8,000 COVID cases have been reported in the country since early March. As of 17 July, 14 out of the 26 provinces that make up the country, have recorded at least one COVID-19 case. More than 8,200 cases have been reported to date, with 7,030 in Kinshasa, followed by Kongo-Central (353). To lessen the pressure on the sole testing capacity in the country located in Kinshasa, new laboratories have been installed in two health clinics in Kinshasa, and in Lubumbashi and Bukavu.  A health state of emergency which has been in effect since 24 March has been extended for an additional two weeks, from 6 to 20 July. There are growing calls, including from members of parliament, to lift the measure on account of the economic toll on the country.

Among challenges directly linked to medical capacities, misinformation has led to disbelief and distrust in the existence of the disease. On 9 June, police clashed with store owners of Kinshasa’s largest market as they were demonstrating against the economic impact of the pandemic.

Response:

As part of the EU humanitarian airlift, three flight were scheduled to transport aid workers and essential supplies to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic. On 8 June, a first flight arrived in Kinshasa with Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Philippe Goffin, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence and Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. They were received by the President Félix Tshisekedi and met representatives of humanitarian organisations and civil society in Kinshasa and in Goma, North-Kivu province. The cargo of the three flights of the EU humanitarian airlift included, among other things laboratory equipment, masks, and other general medical equipment.

The World Bank and UNICEF handed over an important lot of equipment and health materials worth approximately US$ 3 million for health facilities in various provinces including Kinshasa, Kongo-Central, Kasaï-Central, and Maniema. The European Union also announced that it was allocating 5 million euros to support the Saint-Joseph hospital for a stronger response capacity to the virus and improved provision of health services.   The multi-sectoral humanitarian plan specific to the COVID-19 response is an addendum to the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in order to integrate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on existing humanitarian needs and on the activities of humanitarian partners.

The plan is in line with :

1) The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) - US$ 288 million for DRC.

2) The COVID-19 epidemic preparedness and response plan in the Democratic Republic of Congo developed by the government

This multi-sectoral humanitarian plan describes the humanitarian needs and response to assist the most vulnerable people affected directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The plan supports the national response plan but is not limited to its activities. The plan is established until December 2020 in alignment with the GHRP and the 2020 HRP.

The World Bank has approved the disbursement of US$ 445 million under its Eastern DRC Stabilization for Peace Project (STEP 2). Through this funding nearly 2.5 million people will benefit from the construction and maintenance of 2,000 basic infrastructure facilities, including at least 500 schools to support the free primary education program, and 300,000 people will receive cash transfers in the 1,000 targeted communities worth $100 million. As part of the COVID-19 response, this project aims to reallocate and mobilize funds to mitigate socio-economic impacts on the Congolese population and better protect the most vulnerable households, via schemes such as creating more than 1.3 million temporary work days for vulnerable people, equipping 45,000 households with improved agro-pastoral technologies. Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter

Other links:

Global Humanitarian Response Plan 2020

DRC World Health Organisation Country Office

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Situation Report
Eswatini — Trends

Partial lockdown to continue to contain the COVID-19 pandemic

  • First case: 16 March 2020

  • Total cases: 3,989 (as of 19 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 79

  • Schools: Phased opening of schools since 6 July.

  • Borders/Flights:  Only cargo, returning citizens and legal residents allowed to enter the country since 27 March. Some land border posts closed, including Sicunisa, Gege, Lundzi, Sandlane, Bulembu and Nsalitje.

  • Containment measures: Domestic travel allowed only for seeking/providing essential services; 14-day self-quarantine required for those who had contact with symptomatic people.

Situation:

As of 19 August, the number of people who contracted COVID-19 reached 3,989, according to WHO. With a faster increase in cases since mid-May, the Government extended on 20 June the State of Emergency. Since 12 June, most businesses were allowed to gradually resume activities, except for liquor outlets and those falling within COVID-19 hotspots. The Government announced that the reopening of schools would be postponed until at least 6 July. The first phase involved the opening of Form 5s (Grade 7s) and completing classes in tertiary institutions. The Government announced on 4 July new measures and interventions, including re-opening of more business from 13 July, and places of worship from 19 July. With an increase in the number of reported deaths due to pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiac disease and asthma, the public (especially males) has been urged to ensure they have medical check-ups regularly. There are reports of violent interactions with the police as the country continues to enforce COVID-19 measures. At least 67 people, were arrested on 12 August in the capital Manzini, as the Manzini Disaster Management Task Team cracked down on traders who were not complying with COVID-19 guidelines.

Since 27 March, only cargo, returning citizens and legal residents have been allowed to enter the country. To prevent the spread of the virus, the country is continuously assessing the point of entries for importers and exporters of goods. Patients who knowingly expose others to coronavirus may be arrested and prosecuted for attempted murder or murder. Refusal to quarantine, the spread of false information or failure in complying with COVID-19 Regulations will be punished by up to five years in prison or a fine not exceeding 25,000 Emalangeni (around US$1,300), depending on the offence.

The containment measures are reportedly exacerbating pre-existing humanitarian needs in Eswatini. There are reports of increasing hunger in some communities, including Kwaluseni Township, in the Manzini District, where most of the population reportedly lost their incomes with the closure of factories. Across the country, more than 11,000 vulnerable children have reportedly been left without their main nutritional daily meal, following the closure of all Government’s Neighbourhood Care Points, where they previously received two meals a day, according to media reports. The situation has compounded the closure of schools and the interruption of the school feeding scheme. The Ministry of Health encouraged farmers to embark on the production of maize, beans, vegetables and other food crops during the winter season.

Response:

  •  The IMF approved US$110.4 million in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official sources:

Eswatini Government Official Twitter and Kingdom of Eswatini COVID-19 Situation Reports

Eswatini COVID-19 Regulations - 27 March 2020

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

Global Monitoring of School Meals During COVID-19 School Closures, by WFP

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Situation Report
Ethiopia — Trends

Government scales up testing for COVID-19

  • First case: 13 March 2020

  • Total cases: 34,058 (as of 20 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 600

  • Schools: Closed (24.5 million learners affected)

  • Flights/Borders: Although all land borders remain closed, except for essential goods, rail services are operational. The main airport has remained open for international flights. Addis Ababa is one of the hubs for the UNHAS global passenger air service for humanitarian and health workers to destinations not served commercially.

  • Containment measures: All passengers arriving in Ethiopia, with no negative COVID-19 test results (done up to 120 hours before) are placed in a mandatory quarantine at several designated sites for seven days, tested and then self-isolated at home for an additional seven days.

Situation:

Since Ethiopia recorded its first COVID-19 infection on 13 March, 34,058 people contracted the virus and 600 died from the disease as of 20 August. The number of cases have doubled in the last 20 days. Concern over the likelihood of further spike is currently high given that 59 per cent of recent cases resulted through community transmission. According to the Government Emergency Operation Center (EOC), 85.6 per cent of the cases in the regions were asymptomatic and identified through screening in health centers. Among the newly confirmed COVID-19 patients, men seem to be most affected (69 per cent of cases), and the age group of 15-24 years. On 1 August, President Abiy Ahmed Ali announced a nationwide month long testing campaign. Addis Ababa had begun a COVID-19 surveillance survey to measure the prevalence of antibodies against COVID-19 in the general population and selected high risk populations, according to WHO Ethiopia.

The country declared a State of Emergency on 8 April for five months, closing schools and universities, banning public gatherings and requiring most employees to work from home. In addition, regional authorities have imposed strict measures limiting population movements within the regions, although the inter-regional public transports services across the country have resumed on 17 April. The COVID-19 prevention measures have impacted ongoing humanitarian operations, including COVID-19 response activities, according to partners in the country. Despite the challenges and some essential health services being disrupted, nearly 15 million children have been vaccinated against measles. While humanitarian organizations continue to work with authorities to establish the appropriate mechanism to enable the continuity of life-saving operations, an estimated 15 million people could experience food consumption gaps as a result of COVID-19, according to the Government’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) and the Food Cluster. The risk of transmissions and increased humanitarian need is especially high among the 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDP) living in collective sites or host communities across the country. Cases of intimidation related to the stigmatization of foreigners and Ethiopian diasporas in field locations have also been reported. In addition, thousands of Ethiopians have been deported, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan since the beginning of the outbreak, increasing challenges related to their reception and assistance.

COVID-19 arrived in Ethiopia at a time when more than 7 million people were already severely food insecure and struggling to meet their basic needs. The county has also been dealing with other outbreaks, including cholera and measles, putting more pressure on the already weak health system. Flooding due to above normal rainfall, especially in the second week of July, in the south western, western and central parts of the country continue to affect and displace people living along river basins. As of 10 August, 124,219 people were affected by flooding in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Gambella, SNNP and Somali regions, of whom 53,158 people were displaced.

Response:

  • The Government of Ethiopia prepared a multi-sector national COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan for the next three months, appealing for US$ 1.76 billion.

  • At the Federal level, the multi-sector COVID-19 response is coordinated by the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) led by the Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC). All humanitarian partners are supporting the centre.

  • At the country regional level, coordination centres have been established. NDRMC will be working to ensure that regional Coordination Forums mirror the Federal Coordination Mechanism.

  • The Government and partners are expanding quarantine and isolations centres to all points of entry (air and land) and major cities; extending the number of testing facilities to cover major cities; carrying out house-to-house COVID-19 surveillance and community awareness;

  • The humanitarian system reactivated the Logistics Cluster to coordinate demands for emergency COVID-19 supplies throughout the country.

  • On 14 April, the Government of Ethiopia and the World Food Program (WFP) opened the Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub inside the Bole International Airport. COVID-19 supplies, equipment and humanitarian workers will be transported from the hub across 32 countries in Africa. The Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air hub is part of a United Nations initiative to scale up procurement and distribution of protective equipment and medical supplies for the COVID19 response.

Official sources:

Minister of Health Twitter and The Ministry of Health website

Other links:

Ethiopia COVID-19 Humanitarian impact

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Kenya — Trends
UNHCR
In Dagahaley market, Dadaab, three water ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) have been installed. The ATM machines which are managed by the market committee will improve efficiency in management of business and access to clean water. © UNHCR/Mohamed Maalim

Government lifts ban on inter-county travel and commercial flights, in a planned phased re-opening of the economy

  • First case: 12 March

  • Total cases: 28,104 (as of 13 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 456

  • Schools: Closed country-wide until January 2021 (15.3 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: International passenger flights which were suspended from 25 March, except for inbound and outbound repatriations and cargo, restarted on 1 August. Borders with Somalia and Tanzania closed since 17 May, except for cargo.

  • Containment measures: Countrywide curfew (9 p.m. to 4 a.m.); public gatherings limited to 10 people; masks to be worn in public areas; all pubs closed and sale of alcohol in restaurant banned.

Situation:

Following a surge in COVID-19 infections, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on 27 July, new measures to contain the pandemic, which has infected over 28,104 people with 456 reported deaths, as of 13 August 2020. All 47 counties have reported infections. Nairobi City and Mombasa county have the highest attack rates in the country. Starting on 27 July, there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants for the following 30 days. All bars remain closed until further notice. The nationwide curfew (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and prohibition against social and political gatherings was extended for a further 30 days.

Previously on 6 July, the President announced a phased reopening of the country as pressure mounted to kick- start the country's ailing economy after four months of coronavirus restrictions. Domestic flights resumed operations on 15 July, while international air travel in and out of Kenya restarted on 1 August, subject to health regulations. The lifting of the ban of movement in and out of the capital, Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and north-eastern Mandera county was effective on 7 July. Public Service Vehicles operators must acquire mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Transport before they operate and conduct routine temperate testing on the passengers along the designated routes. Places of worship commended a phased reopening on 14 July, but restricted to one hour with a maximum of 100 people aged between 13 and 57 years, as per the guidelines developed by the Inter-Faith Council. The Minister for Education announced on 7 July the cancellation of the 2020 Academic year. All schools in the country will remain closed until January 2021, while the status of colleges and universities meant to reopen in September is yet to be decided. Land borders with Somalia and Tanzania remain closed since 17 May, except for cargo, following increasing number of cases in border areas. COVID-19 test is, since then, mandatory for all drivers of transborder cargo vehicles and those who have the virus will not be allowed to entry Kenya.

On 22 April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched a report denouncing several allegedly cases of police violence. According to HRW, officers shot and beat people at markets or returning home from work, even before the daily start of the curfew. The organization documented cases of police breaking into homes and shops, extorting money from residents or looting food in several locations across the country. The Government of Kenya's Independent Policing Oversight Authority has recorded at least 35 cases of police brutality related to enforcement of the COVID-19 curfew, 12 of which resulted in death, and has opened investigations into a number of the cases.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of gender-based violence cases has also increased. UNFPA estimates that a total of 247,334 women of reproductive age are at risk of sexual violence and are need of services. On 23 July, health authorities recorded more than 5,000 rape cases received in health facilities between March to June; 70 per cent against children of whom 95 per cent are female. Counties like Wajir, Turkana, Kisii, Nandi, Lamu, Homabay and Kisumu, have reported a 30 per cent increase in incidents of violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according MoH. On 6 July, the President ordered the National Crime Research Centre to probe the escalating cases of gender-based violence and “the worrying trend of cases where the girl child has been disempowered”. Essential services including outpatient visits, treatment of chronic conditions, reproductive healthcare and immunization have also been disrupted with health authorities recording a 30 per cent decline in outpatient visits between March and May, according to preliminary findings from a yet-to-be released report by the Ministry of Health. Attendance at health facilities by those with chronic conditions reduced by 40 per cent, raising concerns over the impact of COVID-19 on management of HIV, TB, diabetes, and other conditions. There was also a significant drop in attendance at gynecology clinics, according to media reports quoting the findings.

Response:

  • The Government has earmarked Ksh40 billion (approximately US$377.7 million) in funds for additional health expenditure, including enhanced surveillance, laboratory services, isolation units, equipment, supplies, and communication; social protection and cash transfers; food relief; and funds for expediting payments of existing obligations to maintain cash flow for businesses during the crisis.

  • On 9 April, the United Nations and humanitarian partners launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The plan seeks $267.5 million to respond to the most immediate and critical needs of 10.1 million people that will likely be affected by the current situation.

  • UN and partners are scaling up cash transfers to vulnerable households in informal settlements as COVID-19 restrictions impact access to informal employment, food and essential services. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health website

WHO Kenya Official Twitter

Fourth Presidential Address on the Coronavirus Pandemic - 17 April 2020

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Interactive

Kenya COVID-19 Cases & Operations Dashboard

Kenya Operations Dashboard

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Lesotho — Trends

Government ramps up COVID-19 testing capacity

  • First case: 13 May

  • Total cases: 996 (as of 20 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 30

  • Schools: Closed (579,807 learners affected)

  • Borders/Flights: All travellers are screened for coronavirus.

  • Containment measures: National Emergency declared 28 March, restricting all movements and closing all non-essential services.

Situation:

As of 20 August, 996 people have contracted COVID-19 in the country and 14 have died, according to WHO. Lesotho can now test up to 2,000 people for COVID-19 per day, due to a new testing station that was launched by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro on 11 August. According to the Government spokesperson, the country has installed a new technology to operate the testing machines as the previous technology had created a backlog of unfinished COVID-19 tests. The National COVID-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) is also working to install PCR machines donated by the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC). The National Reference Laboratories (NRL) are working to verify the machines and to have them provide results within 24 hours.

Nacosec is planning to hire over 2,000 unemployed nurses to be deployed countrywide to support the COVID-19 response, according to media reports. The decision comes after the Coalition of Health Professionals reported that it is continuing the health worker strike that started in mid July, as they continue to negotiate with the Government regarding paid allowances and personal protective equipment for health-care workers.

Nacosec has tightened the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations and has directed bars to be closed and no funeral to be allowed after 10 a.m. Only immediate family members and 10 village people to dig the grave and cover it will be allowed to attend. Furthermore, district to district movement has been restricted except for essential services and work-related travel. Businesses, such as factory workers, are to work in shifts with precautionary measures in place.

All schools are closed, leaving an estimated 390,000 children without access to school meals, according to WFP. Since the beginning of the National State of Emergency on 28 March, the Prime Minister and Police Commissioner have called on law enforcement agencies to uphold people’s rights during the lockdown period. However, there have been reports of excessive use of force by security officers and the Government also informed about an increasing on criminal activities during the lockdown. On 18 April, the Prime Minister deployed the army onto streets to ‘restore peace and order’, claiming law enforcement institutions were undermining democracy. His announcement on national television came a day after the Constitutional Court overturned his 3-month suspension of Parliament as part of the coronavirus lockdown extension declared on 17 April, according to media reports.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, more than a quarter of the population in Lesotho - over half a million people - were facing severe food insecurity as the result of a devastating drought. Humanitarian partners launched a Flash Appeal to respond to the most urgent and life-saving needs, which was just 10 per cent funded. Response:

  • A M700 million (approximately US$38.6 million) fund has been set aside for the National COVID-19 Response Integrated Plan 2020, more than half of which will be used for health care personnel and purchase of critical goods and services, with the remainder covering logistics, security, and border management.

Official sources:

Government of Lesotho webpage and COVID-19 National Command Centre

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Madagascar — Trends

State of Health Emergency extended

  • First case: 20 March 2020

  • Total cases: 13,397 (as of 13 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 156

  • Schools: Closed in the capital Atananarivo, the rest of the country opened since 22 April.

  • Borders/Flights:  The Government of Madagascar announced a suspension of all international air travel starting 20 March.

  • Containment measures: 14-day quarantine mandatory for individuals who have had possible exposure to COVID-19; restrictions on movements on the most affected regions of the country, including the capital Antananarivo (partial containment since 10 August); inter-region movements banned across the country.

Situation:

In Madagascar, the total number of people who contracted COVID-19 has more than tripled from nearly 3,500 as of 7 July to more than 13,397 as of 13 August. The Government has extended the State of Health Emergency for another 15 additional days effective 8 August, following a deterioration of the COVID-19 pandemic in six regions: Boeny, Itasy, Bongolava, Matsiatra ambony, Bestiboka and Atsimo Andrefana. Out of 22 regions, 21 have reported outbreaks, with the capital reporting 79 per cent of the confirmed cases. The Presidency has further announced plans to ease the full ccontainment measures that have been in place since 5 July for the capital Antananarivo and Moramanga District. Business operations in the two areas will be allowed to operate until 5 p.m., while in Fenerive Est and Toamasina I and II districts are back to normal operating hours subject to respect of the COVID-19 measures, including gatherings limited to 50 people. International flights, except humanitarian, repatriation and cargo flights, remain suspended. President Rajoelina on 26 July opened the fifth coronavirus treatment centre, the Mahamasina Treatment Centre, in the capital Antananarivo, with capacity of 250 COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, following an increase in infections and an overwhelmed health sector. Protection partners have reported an increase in GBV cases since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey jointly conducted by Ministry of Population and UNFPA, at least 2,053 GBV claims were received in July, including physical violence, psychological violence, economic violence and sexual violence.

Meanwhile, health authorities have continued to use Covid-Organics, a herbal product made with Artemisia annua and launched on 20 April by the President, as a cure and prevention for the virus and is being distributed in schools and communities across the country. On 3 May, WHO published a press release welcoming innovations around the world, including traditional medicines, as part of the search for potential treatments for COVID-19, and warning about the risks of using products that have not been robustly investigated. The document specifically highlights that the use of medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua as treatment for COVID-19 should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects. The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey, in a tweet published on 13 May informed that the Madagascar's Health Ministry had agreed to collaborate with the Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) to investigate the remedy.

Madagascar has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition among children under age 5 in the world, and has been buffeted by floods and drought in recent months. Across the country, more than 567,700 children are no longer receiving vital school feeding, according to WFP.  

Response:

  • Key measures include: (i) increased spending on epidemic prevention and control; (ii) cash-transfers and in-kind necessities to the poorest and those unemployed; and (iii) tax relief, suspension of government fees and waived social contributions.

  • The Government has adjusted the response strategy by decentralizing the case management in all the basic health centres where drugs and doctors will be made available, allowing patients to be treated immediately without having the results of their test. Only patients presenting severe form will be asked to join the referral centres.

  • The Government has delivered medicine and PPE to several regions by air, while the German and French embassies have donated respirators to health facilities and the Government of China has donated 14 tons of medical items.In addition, at least 563 units of oxygen concentrators and oxygen nasal cannula imported by the Government were received in the country on 9 August and will be delivered to the most affected regions, including the Capital.

  • The Presidency has launched an additional $20 million Social Protection Program in the capital, Antananarivo, targeting 200,000 households (about 1 million people). Food for peace allocated $US5 million to WFP to support the social protection programme. In addition, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, and Madagascar Red Cross have jointly donated in kind-assistance worth $759,000 in medical equipment to the Government, to support the health centers in charge of COVID-19 treatment in several regions of the country. The country’s health facilities are currently overwhelmed with health centres serving mainly severe cases due to lack of capacity.

  • On 12 March 2020, the World Bank provided a grant of US$3.7 million to strengthen prevention against the COVID-19 pandemic, purchase materials and equipment, and train health workers. On 2 April, the World Bank approved $100 million Development Policy Operation for budget support to improve the human capital. On 3 April 2020, the IMF approved a disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility, equivalent to US$165.9 million, to meet the external financing gaps arising from COVID-19 and in late July, a second disbursement of US$171.9 million was allocated.

  • The United Nations and partners have launched a three-month Emergency Appeal calling for $82.3 million to rapidly contain COVID-19 in the country and support millions of people affected by the humanitarian consequences of the pandemic. The Appeal includes support to the country’s weak health system to respond to the outbreak and maintain other basic health services, as well as rapid interventions to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance and protection to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Facebook Page and President Official Twitter

Other links:

U.S. Embassy Madagascar and Comoros COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Malawi — Trends
Handwashing
Esther Levison teaches her grandson how to wash hands using a hand made tap, in Loyitele,Lilongwe. Photo: UNICEF

Lockdown suspended by the High Court until further notice

  • First case: 2 April 2020

  • Total cases: 4,752 (as of 13 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 152

  • Schools: Closed (5,495,017 learners affected)

  • Borders/flights: All international flights and cross-border passenger and buses banned since 1 April.

  • Containment measures: State of Disaster declared on 20 March; domestic travel allowed only for seeking/providing essential services; 14-day self-quarantine for travellers or those who had contact with symptomatic people.

Situation:

Over 4,750 people have contracted COVID-19 and 152 have died in the country, as of 13 August, majority being from local transmissions. Since 23 March, there has been a ban on public gatherings and closure of schools and universities; and a ban of all international flights and cross- border passenger buses since 1 April. On 6 July, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology postponed indefinitely the opening of schools earlier scheduled for 13 July. Child rights activists and Government officials have said that school closures in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly led to an alarming increase in child marriages and early pregnancies. The Government on 5 August gazzetted new COVID-19 rules to be effected from 7 August. Under the new rules, it is mandatory to wear masks in public places with a fine of MK10,000 ($14) for non-compliance. The Government had on 9 July announced a mandatory use of face masks in all its offices and warned that public and civil servants will not provide services to clients that do not wear face masks. Public gatherings are now restricted to a maximum of 10 people, including in places of worship, with a fine of up to MK100,000 ($135) for those who fail to do so. Funeral gatherings and other meetings convened to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, including the National Assembly are limited to 50 people. All markets, shops and businesses that are near hospitals have been ordered to close and all bars will only be allowed to sell alcohol as take-out. Members of the Opposition, led by Leader of the Opposition in Malawi Parliament, Kondwani Namkhumwa, have again condemned the newly announced COVID-19 regulations, stating that they are “unrealistic and harsh”, according to media reports. According to Namkhumwa, the imposition of the rules should have been accompanied with corresponding measures to cushion poor communities, including distribution of free masks, particularly to the ultra-poor. The court hearing on the injunction imposed by the High Court in April, stopping the Government from imposing a 21-day national lockdown is pending determination at the Constitutional Court., Human and civil rights activists opposed the 21-day lockdown stating that it lacked measures to cushion the majority of Malawians who rely on the informal sector and who are likely to be affected by the lack of access to their means of livelihood.

President Lazarus Chakwera has directed the establishment of a special committee to address concerns raised by human rights groups regarding overcrowding in prisons and the impact of this amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The activists represented by the Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance, allege that prisons across the country are currently accommodating nearly triple their capacity. Chichiri prison in Blantyre City that has a capacity of 800 prisoners is holding 2,000 inmates, while another prison in the city reportedly holding 14,000 instead of its capacity of 5,000 prisoners, according to media reports. The groups propose the release of prisoners who are terminally ill, prisoners with tuberculosis who considered high risk for infection and transmission, and elderly prisoners of 70 years and above. As of 6 August, 86 inmates and 21 members of staff had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, of which 71 cases are in one prion in Blantyre, according to the Malawi prison authority’s spokesperson, Chimwemwe Shaba, quoted by media. There are fears that the figures could be more as not all inmates and staff have been tested. A shortage of testing kits has reportedly slowed down efforts to intensify both random and mass testing. The country is further facing challenges in the medical response. Doctors and nurses have repeatedly protested the allegedly unfavorable working conditions, including a critical shortage of personal protective equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients.

Response:

  • On 8 April, Malawi Government launched the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, with a budget of US$213 million (MWK157 billion). The response plan includes $20 million (0.25 percent of GDP) in spending on health care and targeted social assistance programs. This includes hiring 2,000 additional health care workers.

  • The Minister of Population Planning and Social Welfare reportedly announced on 11 April that all Government social cash transfer beneficiaries will receive a four-month disbursement. The measure aimed to cushion them from the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and to boost compliance with social distance orders. In addition, on 3 May, the President reportedly announced cash transfers to support informal workers who normally depend on the markets for their livelihood. The Government will reportedly target approximately 172,000 families, representing 35 per cent of the urban population.

  • On 15 April, the World Bank approved $7 million in immediate funding to support Malawi’s response under a new Malawi COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness project. In addition to the new operation, $30 million has been made available from the Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Financing with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO) to strengthen the country’s response to the pandemic.

  • UN and partners launched an Emergency Appeal for $140.1 million to target 7.5 people until October, and have scaled up their response. Since March, a risk communication and community engagement campaign has regularly reached more than 15 million people with support from UN and partners. At least 26,000 people who have entered Malawi during the COVID-19 period, including returnees, have been screened for the virus at the Points of Entry and been assisted with shelter, food, protective items and onward transportation to their final destinations. Six isolation and emergency treatment centres across Malawi have been set up by national authorities with support from the UN and partners. Following closure of schools in March, an emergency education radio programme for six million primary school students and digital learning for more than 15,000 secondary school students to continue learning have been supported. Also, more than 700 community protection workers and women rights promoters are dealing with cases of violence against children, women, adolescent girls and persons with albinism.

Official sources:

Malawi Government Official Twitter and Malawi Government Facebook Page

Ministry of Health COVID-19 Dashboard

Other links:

Malawi Government dispenses 4-month cash transfer to fight COVID-19, by Nyasa Times

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Mauritius — Trends

No new local transmissions since 26 April

  • First case: 19 March 2020

  • Total cases: 344 (as of 25 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 10

  • Schools: Open since 1 July.

  • Borders/Flights: Commercial flights have been suspended since 19 March.

  • Containment measures: 14-day quarantine mandatory for individuals who have had possible exposure to COVID-19.

Situation:

No new COVID-19 cases through local transmission has been detected in Mauritius since 26 April 2020, according to the Ministry of Health. Since then, all the new cases reported on the island have been from passengers who were repatriated to Mauritius and were admitted to quarantine centres upon their arrival. At the end of July, the country had registered 344 positive cases, including 10 deaths.

While borders remain closed, Mauritius lifted, on 15 June, all COVID-19-related restrictions implemented since 20 March. The very strict measures the country had implemented included the citizens only being allowed to leave their homes due to an emergency and shopping organized alphabetically by surname. Schools reopened on 1 July.

Rights groups and lawyers in the country reportedly criticized the Quarantine Act 2020, terming it as controversial and likely to lead to police abuse, according to media reports. The Act, passed on 15 May to address the COVID-19 pandemic, replaces the Quarantine Act from 1954. Activists, quoted by the media, state that the Government took advantage of the strict lockdown situation to pass a controversial bill in just three days, without proper democratic debate. At least five deaths have been reported while in police custody and several cases of police brutality have reportedly been recorded during the two-and-a-half months of confinement, according to the media.

Response:

  • The Government has announced plans to increase general public health spending by Rs208 million (approximately US$5.25 million), with half already disbursed, according to the IMF.

Official sources:

Government of Mauritius Official Twitter and  Government of Mauritius COVID-19 webpage

Other links:

U.S. Embassy in Mauritius Travel Advisory – 14 April 2020

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Mozambique — Trends
Mozambique - Metuge
A woman washes her hands at shelter distribution for displaced families in Metuge district in Cabo Delgado. To prevent a possible spread of COVID-19, the distribution is carried out in a small group size, keeping social distancing and including handwashing facilities. Photo: IOM / Wolfe Murray

Cabo Delgado and Nampula are the most affected provinces

  • First case: 23 March 2020

  • Total cases: 1,907 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 12

  • Schools: Closed (7.9 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: Entry for non-nationals and non-residents is restricted.

  • Containment measures: State of Emergency since 1 April, restricting movements and closing schools and non-essential services; 14-day quarantine for all travellers; use of face masks mandatory in public areas; temporary suspension of issuance of official documents, including visas.

Situation:

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Mozambique had reached 1,900 as of 1 August, including 12 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health. More than 146 health workers have also been infected, according to WHO. The provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado continue to report the highest number of infections.   President Filipe Nyusi extended the State of Health Emergency for another 30 days starting on 30 June but has announced a relaxation of some restrictions to allow for the function of some sectors of the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to media reports. In maintaining the level three measures, the authorities will reportedly coordinate a phased-out approach for the reopening of several sectors including education, business, culture and tourism, in strict compliance with the preventive measures and protocols defined by health authorities. The Government announced on 7 July the reopening of schools, closed since March, on 27 July, but only for the 12th grade of secondary education (pre-university), and for teacher training colleges. However, this was postponed as the the Ministry reported that only 170 public secondary schools (out of a total of 667) and 19 out of 27 teacher training colleges had met the strict health guidelines for reopening. Only places of worship that meet the conditions specified by the Government may resume their activities, including setting up of handwashing facilities and wearing of masks by congregants. International commercial flights remain suspended and all arrivals to Mozambique, regardless of citizenship, will have to follow a mandated 14-day self-quarantine. The Government is collaborating with Cuba to bring 60 doctors to reinforce the COVID-19 operations. Meanwhile, the pandemic has reportedly impacted the country’s economy. According to media reports, 6,115 workers in the tourism industry have reportedly lost their jobs and 1,443 establishments closed their doors since the beginning of the State of Emergency on 1 April. An additional 21,000 people have had their contracts suspended and are on collective leave with no compensation, according to National Union of Hotel, Tourism and Similar Industry Workers, quoted by the media. The COVID-19 blockade at the border with South Africa has been lifted, allowing thousands of Mozambican miners to cross the border and return to work, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Response:

  • The Government has increased the budget allocation for health, from about approximately US$29.8 million (MT 2 billion or about 0.2 per cent of GDP) to about $49.2 million (MT 3.3 billion or 0.3 per cent of GDP).

  • The Government has requested $700 million from partners to help deal with the impact of the pandemic.

  • The authorities are planning interventions in water supply and sanitation in all schools deemed not to meet the required hygiene conditions for re-opening, budgeted at 3.5 billion Meticais (about US$50 million) to be financed by the state budget and international partners.

  • The UN and humanitarian partners launched a Flash Appeal aimed at providing urgent life-saving and life-supporting assistance to 2.96 million people until December 2020. Out of $68 million appeal, $16 million are destined for the health sector, and $52 million for non-health sectors, especially food security and livelihoods, and water, sanitation and hygiene. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

Official sources:

Mozambique Government COVID-19 webpage and Ministry of Health Official Twitter

WHO Mozambique Official Twitter

Other links:

U.S. Embassy in Mozambique, COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Namibia — Trends

Country further eases COVID-19 lockdown, cases escalate in July

  • First case: 14 March 2020

  • Total number of cases: 2,294 (as of 2 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 11

  • Schools: Open partially since 2 June

  • Borders/Flights: Commercial flights not operating. Road borders closed for non-resident foreign nationals, with exceptions including people seeking medical treatment, essential services, truck drivers transporting food and other essential commodities.

  • Containment measures: State of Emergency declared 17 March; self-quarantine for returning residents and nationals; mandatory quarantine in isolation facilities for symptomatic cases; ban on gatherings of more than 50 people; clubs, casinos and gambling houses are closed.

Situation:

The COVID-19 outbreak in Namibia has escalated dramatically in recent weeks, with cases increasing ten-fold from 203 on 1 July to 2,294, with 11 deaths, as of 2 August. From 23 June, the Government reportedly eased the nationwide coronavirus-related lockdown to the lowest level in 13 of its 14 regions. While most of the country moved from phase three to four, Erongo Region was placed in phase three to avoid an upsurge in cases. The Ministry Health has reported a backlog of 1,500 coronavirus tests in Erongo region, a major hotspot for the outbreak in Namibia. The Ministry is planning to engage private service providers to assist with the testing of samples and will collaborate with the Erongo Regional Council to identify more quarantine and isolation facilities to accommodate the increasing number of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in the region.

With the relaxation, all business, including restaurants and bars, can operate under normal working hours, but alcohol sales are for takeaway only. Gatherings of as many as 250 people for weddings, funerals and religious services are permitted, while the attendance at schools remains voluntary. The State of Emergency declared on 17 March was extended by the Parliament for a period of six months. The borders will remain closed.

Response:

  • On 1 April 2020, the Government launched Economic Stimulus and Relief Package to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 for approximately US$434.5 million (8 billion Namibian Dollars, or 4.25 per cent of GDP), including approximately $119.5 million (2.2 billion) for health, wage subsidies, and income grants; and guarantees of up to $124.9 million (2.3 billion) to support low interest loans for small and agricultural businesses, and individuals.

Official sources:

Namibia Presidency Official Twitter and Ministry of Health and Social Services Twitter

Presidential Statement on extension of lockdown

Other links:

Namibian lockdown: Travel with permit allowed, by Namibian newspaper

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Rwanda — Trends

International flights resume on 1 August

  • First case: 14 March

  • Total cases: 2,042 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 5

  • Schools: Closed (3.4 million learners affected).

  • Borders/flights: Commercial flight operations (closed since 20 March, except for cargo) resumed on 1 August. Domestic travels allowed since 1 June

  • Containment measures: Daily curfew from 9 p.m, to 5 a.m.

Situation:

COVID-19 cases in Rwanda have more than doubled in a month from 900 confirmed cases with two deaths on 28 June to over 2,000 cases and five deaths as of 1 August. On 16 July, the Government eased the lockdown on Rusizi District in the south-western region bordering the DRC, which had been in place since 18 June, following an improvement in the contention of the COVID-19 pandemic in the area, according to the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre. Travel to Rusizi from other parts of the country is however still prohibited, except for cargo and all transport of goods. Kicukiro District remains under lockdown. The Inter-religious Council and Rwanda Governance Board has issued guidelines for the reopening of places of worship, including the need to have hand sanitizers, thermometers and measures to uphold the use of face masks. Public and private businesses will continue to operate, with only essential staff going to the office. International flights, which were suspended on 20 March, resumed on 1 August. All arriving international passengers, including transit passengers, will be required to present proof of a COVlD-19 negative test from a certified laboratory, taken within 72 hours of arriving in Rwanda, while passengers entering Rwanda, will undergo a second polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival, with results delivered within 24 hours, during which time they will remain in designated hotels at their own cost. Schools will reopen open in September as earlier scheduled.

On 18 May, the daily curfew was reduced, starting from 9 p.m., instead of the previous 8 p.m., and finishing at 5 a.m..Civil weddings have also been allowed with maximum 15 attendees. From 1 June, motorcycle taxis are allowed to resume services and restrictions on cross-provincial movements have also been lifted, subject to adherence to strict COVID-19 guidelines. Preventive measures such as wearing face masks and keeping a one-metre distance from people remain mandatory.

There were reports of violence by security forces against people who allegedly violated the lockdown regulations. Some businesses have also been fined for selling commodities at higher prices during this pandemic period.

Response:

  • The Government announced a social protection plan to support vulnerable people across the country during the lockdown, with door to door provision of foodstuffs and groceries to vulnerable homes since 28 March.

  • In July, UNFPA donated surgical masks and googles for health workers.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health COVID-19 webpage

Rwanda Biomedical Centre Twitter

Other links:

BBC Rwanda COVID-19 coverage

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Seychelles — Trends

Surge in COVID-19 infections after the country was declared virus free

  • First case: 14 March

  • Total cases: 114 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 0

  • Schools: Reopened in mid-May.

  • Flights/Borders: Airport reopened on 1 August.

  • Containment measures: Most restrictions are now lifted, with specific guidance to prevent transmissions.

Situation:

After several weeks of not having registered any new COVID-19 infections, at least 66 seafarers tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Seychelles on 23 June. The seafarers were part of the new crew members assigned to rotate with staff aboard Spanish fishing vessels who had been more than six months in the Seychelles. The new crew had reportedly tested negative for the virus during an exit screening conducted three days prior to their departure from Senegal and Ivory Coast. The seafarers who tested positive were isolated on a dedicated ship of the fishing fleet for monitoring by the onboard doctor.

As announced by President Danny Faure, all restrictions on the movement of people were removed from 4 May, while most services and businesses are allowed to operate, with specific guidance to be followed by some sectors. Religious services are also allowed, following guidance from the Department of Health. Day-care services resumed on 11 May, while all primary and secondary schools reopened on 18 May.

The country’s international airport reopened for commercial flights on 1 August. A designated establishment within the tourism industry has been sett up to cater for the eventuality that a visitor needs to be isolated during their stay in Seychelles.

The tourism sector, the top contributor to the island nation's economy, has been the hardest hit as visitor arrivals to the country dropped to almost zero. From 1 March to 3 July, data from the Department of Employment have shown that 100 businesses have applied for permission under the Employment Act to make redundancies, as quoted by the media. Nearly 230 Seychellois and more than 170 foreigners in the tourism sector have reportedly lost their jobs, with an estimated 4,000 that also might have lost their jobs due to the impact of the virus on the country’s economy.

Response:

  • The Government announced it will be cut non-essential spending across most ministries, departments and agencies by introducing measures such as placing a freeze on recruitment, restricting travel and reducing allowances. With the cancellation of several festivals and delaying the national census to 2021, the resources saved will be used to finance the construction of an isolation centre, increase actual quarantine capacity and other health-related projects.

  • Financial assistance will reportedly be provided to businesses to ensure that all their employees are paid in April, May and June 2020.

Official sources:

Seychelles State House Official Twitter and Ministry of Health webpage  

Additional restrictions of movement in Seychelles, by State House on 16 April

Presidential address on COVID-19 situation on 14 April

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Somalia — Trends

Pandemic likely to compound fragile humanitarian situation

  • First case: 16 March

  • Total cases: 3,212 (as of 2 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 93

  • Schools: Closed (544,000 learners affected)

  • Borders/Flights: International passenger flights, suspended since 18 March, to resume on 3 August. Cargo flights allowed. Land borders with Kenya and Ethiopia closed. 

  • Containment measures: Curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m imposed on 15 April for the capital Mogadishu. Nationwide ban of public gatherings. Health screening and self-quarantine required for travellers or those who had contact with symptomatic people.

Situation:

Somalia had recorded 3,212 COVID-19 cases, with 93 deaths, as of 2 August. Most of the cases have no travel history, signifying community transmission. The country has a weak health-care system with limited capacity to prevent, detect and respond to a pandemic like COVID-19. Less than 20 per cent of the health facilities have the required equipment and supplies to manage an outbreak. There are also significant gaps in surveillance, laboratory testing and personal protective equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to compound an already fragile humanitarian situation in Somalia.

The country hosts large numbers of vulnerable people, including over 2.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living in 2,000 overcrowded sites, with poor access to safe drinking water, clean latrines and hygiene kits including soap. More than 1.2 million people are severely food insecure. The Government announced on 17 March a series of measures to contain the virus, including the closure of schools and a ban on large gatherings. All international and domestic flights were suspended and borders closed since 18 March. Local flights resumed at the beginning of July and international flights are expected to restart on 3 August. Incoming travellers will require a coronavirus negative certificate. The travel ban limited movement of humanitarian staff and contractors to and within the country, disrupting humanitarian operations. Somalia continued to have an influx of migrants from neighbouring countries through irregular migration routes, especially from Ethiopia. The closures of borders has affected the usual movements of people between Doolow in Gedo Region in Somalia, Dollo Ado in Ethiopia and Mandera in Kenya, including people who were recently displaced by violence in Gedo. According to IOM, hundreds of migrants were stranded in Bossaso as a result of border and sea-crossing closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 400 migrants had to be hosted by members of the Ethiopian community living in informal settlements around the city.

Response:

  • The Government launched on 26 March a national preparedness and response plan, which seeks US$57.8 million to scale up operations over the next nine months. 

  • The African Development Bank said on 24 July it had approved grants worth about $25.1 million to Somalia to bolster the national budget for government efforts to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Somali Government will use the financing to carry out three interlinked responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that will enhance the health system; safeguard livelihoods and social protection; and support labour force productivity and economic activity. The Bank’s grant funding aligns with Somalia’s development objectives and COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

  • The Somalia 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan was revised in July to incorporate the new challenges and constraints related to the triple threat of COVID-19, locusts and flooding.

  • IOM continues raise awareness on COVID-19, particularly targeting migrants and internally displaced people. At least, 43,230 people were screened for COVID-19 symptoms at PoEs in Dhobley, Doolow, Baidoa, Kismayo and Hudur in June, by Ministry of Health staff trained by IOM. Activities are closely coordinated with the Ministries of Health at Federal and Member State level and with local authorities.

Visit the COVID-19 Response in Somalia page to learn more about the pandemic and the humanitarian situation in the country.  

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health webpage

COVID-19 Response in Somalia, by Ministry of Health and OCHA

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
South Africa — Trends

Government reinstates measures to curb rapid spread of COVID-19

  • First case: 5 March 2020

  • Total cases: 615,701 (as of 26 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 13,502

  • Schools: Partially reopened from 1 June (14.6 million learners affected).

  • Borders/flights: International passenger flights prohibited, except for repatriation flights of South African citizens and medical evacuations. Local flights resumed on 1 July.

  • Containment measures: In the current level two, economic activities are allowed, including serving food and alcohol in restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, hotel accommodation for leisure, gyms and personal care businesses.

Situation:

As of 26 August, South Africa confirmed that over 615,700 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 including 13,308 people who died from the disease. On 14 August, President Cyril Ramaphosa President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easement of a number of regulations to contain COVID-19. This decision comes after the country is reportedly recording an average of 5,000 daily cases from about 12,000 per day over the past three weeks of August and recovery rate also increasing to 80 per cent. The number of patients hospitalised has also decreased from 10,000 at the beginning of the month to around 4,000. The sale of alcohol and tobacco is now permitted. Restaurants, bars and taverns are allowed to open, including for the consumption of alcohol until 10 p.m. Gyms and fitness centres can open, with approved protocols in place. Furthermore, all restrictions on inter-provincial travel were lifted while the curfew remains from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. Gatherings of more than 50 people are still prohibited, and current restrictions on international travel remain. Grade 7 learners returned to school on 11 August with no major disruptions, especially in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. According to the Ministry of Basic Education, 1,718 schools have been vandalized during the national lockdown causing serious setbacks for the communities affected, according to media reports.

A study on excess death toll has indicated that the COVID-19 outbreak may be even worse than reported. By the second week of July, there were 59 per cent more deaths from natural causes in South Africa than would have been expected based on historical data, according to a statement released by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). According to the statement, the timing and geographic pattern of the deaths “leaves no room to question whether this is associated with the COVID-19”, while noting that the deaths “may be attributed to both COVID-19 deaths as well non-COVID-19 due to other diseases such as TB, HIV and non-communicable diseases, as health services are re-orientated to support this health crisis.”

Previously on 21 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that "the nationwide lockdown is having a devastating effect on the economy" and added that "the pandemic has resulted in the sudden loss of income for businesses and individuals alike, deepening poverty and increasing hunger." The statement followed a series of protests and disturbs across the country over access to food parcels handed out by the authorities. Several food stores have reportedly been looted in different localities. There have also been reports of violence by police, including alleged killings, since the lockdown began. Response:

  • The Government announced on 21 April a R500 billion Rand (approximately $26.4 billion) social relief and economic support package, involving, according to the authorities, a health budget to respond to coronavirus, the relief of hunger and social distress, the support for companies and workers, and the phased re-opening of the economy.

Official sources:

Government COVID-19 Official website

Presidential Statement on Lockdown - 24 March 2020

Presidential Statement on increased violence against women and girls during the lockdown - 13 April 2020

Other links:

South African police officer arrested for allegedly killing man who violated lockdown, by Democracy Now

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
South Sudan — Trends

COVID-19 will likely exacerbate an already fragile humanitarian situation

  • First case: 5 April 2020

  • Total cases: 2,510 (as of 26 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 47

  • Schools: Closed (3.5 million learners affected).

  • Flights/Borders: Airspace opened in May for commercial flights.

  • Containment measures: Nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. imposed from 29 April. Fourteen-day quarantine mandatory for those arriving from abroad. Self-quarantine, with daily phone calls from public health officers, required for those who are suspected of having been in contact with people who contracted COVID-19.

Situation

South Sudan recorded its first COVID-19 case on 5 April 2020. Since then, 2,510 people with COVID-19, including 47 who have died as of 26 August. Humanitarian partners are scaling up the humanitarian assistance to nearly 30,000 internally displaced people hosted in the Protection of Civilian sites in Juba, increasing the number of hand-washing facilities and distributing three months’ worth of food in advance to encourage them to observe the lockdown and reduce movements. Across the country, containment measures have been imposed since 13 March, including the temporary closure of schools and universities, religious activities, ban on gatherings, sports events, and norms for physical distancing.

Humanitarian partners are working to make sure the pandemic does not disrupt aid operations in South Sudan. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) cargo flights continue operate and the World Food Programme (WFP), on behalf of the humanitarian system, is engaged with national authorities to enable critical programme personnel movement within the country. COVID-19 testing previously required for all humanitarian staff travelling in Juba on official missions have been removed effective 1 May. However, all travellers must observe a 14-day quarantine prior to travel and authorized health workers from the Ministry of Health must be allowed free regular access to the quarantine facility.

COVID-19 will likely exacerbate an already fragile humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The cumulative effects of years of prolonged conflict, chronic vulnerabilities and weak essential services have left 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 1.6 million people are internally displaced, nearly 6 million people are severely food insecure and most of the population lack access to health services.

Response

  • The country’s High-Level Task Force on COVID-19, chaired by the first Vice President, is leading the response, with technical support from WHO, US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Technical Working Groups (TWGs) and humanitarian partners. Training of health workers, surveillance, contact tracing, risk communication, case management and expanding the John Garang Infectious Disease Unit from 24 to 80 beds are among the main activities.

  • WHO, in support of the Ministry of Health, pre-positioned COVID-19 supplies as part of the national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan to 20 locations across the country.

  • The COVID-19 Addendum to the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan requests US$390 million and brings the overall humanitarian appeal for the year to $1.9 billion. The National COVID-19 Response Plan, which request $150 million, is included in this addendum. Humanitarian organizations aim to assist 7.4 million people by the end of the year, up from the 5.6 million planned before the outbreak.

  • Up to 12 months of nutritional supplies are being prepositioned for vulnerable families, focusing on tackling acute malnutrition, pregnant and breast-feeding women and the chronically ill. 

  • Communal hand-washing sites are being set up in high-density areas like Juba, Wau, Malakal and Bentiu.

  • Tens of thousands of educational flashcards, pamphlets, banners and posters in multiple languages are being distributed.

  • Radio Miraya, a radio station owned and operated by the UN Mission in South Sudan, is broadcasting health information to people across the country.

  • A media desk is set up at the Ministry of Health to improve the flow of information to the public and journalists are being trained in how to curb misinformation and rumours.

To learn more about the COVID-19 and its humanitarian impact in South Sudan, visit this page.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Government Official Twitter

WHO South Sudan Twitter

Other sources:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Sudan — Trends
COVID-19 cases and deaths in Sudan
COVID-19 cases and deaths in Sudan (as of 5 October 2020)

The country continues to face the health and humanitarian consequences of COVID-19

  • First case: 14 March 2020

  • Total cases:  13,691 (as of 11 October 2020)

  • Total deaths: 836

  • States affected:  All 18 states

  • Schools: Closed (8,375,193 learners affected).

  • Borders/flights: The Khartoum airport is partially opened since 20 July, and is gradually resuming international and national flights.

  • Containment measures: On 7 July, the High Committee for Health Emergencies announced the ease of lockdown restrictions in Khartoum State. Government institutions resumed work on 12 July, with reduced scheduled and number of employees, to reduce congestion in the workplace. All staff must wear face masks and workplaces are to be sanitized regularly. The curfew was lifted on 16 September. Movements in and out of Khartoum are not allowed. Some states in the Darfur region have closed borders.

Situation

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sudan in mid-March, the Government confirmed that 13,691 people contracted the virus, including 836 who died from the disease, as of 11 October. All 18 states have reported cases, with Khartoum, El Gezira, and Gedaref amongst the hardest-hit. Although Khartoum State accounts for about 70 per cent of all reported cases in the country, over 60 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths have been reported from outside the capital. Some states have extremely high case fatality rates if compared with global trends, including Central Darfur (50 per cent of people with COVID-19 died), North Darfur (32 per cent), East Darfur (24 per cent), South Kordofan (21 per cent) and Red Sea (20 per cent). This could imply that a number of infections are not being diagnosed.

Sudan’s health system was under extreme stress prior to the pandemic and has been further stretched to prevent, contain and treat COVID-19. Approximately 81 per cent of the population do not have access to a functional health centre within two hours of their home and the situation is getting worse, as many clinics are closing during the pandemic. In Khartoum State alone, nearly half of the health centres closed during the pandemic, and Darfur had already closed a quarter of their facilities in 2018 due to lack of funds and staff. Sudan has only 184 beds in intensive care units (ICU) and approximately 160 of them have ventilators, according to WHO. Only four ICU doctors—three in Khartoum and one and Gezira State— are prepared to deal with patients infected with the virus, according to WHO.

Across Sudan, clinics and hospitals lack critical medicines, as they can no longer afford to stock them due to the economic crisis and also due to disruption in the supply chains. The situation makes it extremely challenging for the Government and aid organizations to respond to the pandemic and maintain essential services. Women and children have been especially affected. Maternal health clinics have closed, reproductive health services have been interrupted and over 110,000 children are missing out essential vaccines. Prevention to COVID-19 is also a challenge in Sudan, as 63 per cent of the population do not have access to basic sanitation, 23 percent do not have access to a hand-washing facility with soap and water and 40 per cent do not have access to basic drinking water services. The risk of transmissions and increased humanitarian needs are especially high amongst the nearly 2 million internally displaced people (IDP) and 1.1 million refugees living in collective sites or host communities across the country and the population living in urban slums.

COVID-19 is having direct and indirect impacts on food access in Sudan, according to the latest food security alert report from FEWS NET. Some families lost their incomes at a time where they also face higher living costs, including due to increasing medical costs related to the pandemic, as well as the ongoing economic crisis. The necessary COVID-19-related containment measures have also indirect negative impacts, limiting many poor households’ physical access to areas where they typically earn income from daily labour.

Before COVID-19, about 9.3 million people were already in need of humanitarian support across Sudan. Years of conflict, recurrent climatic shocks and disease outbreaks continue to affect the lives and livelihoods of many Sudanese. The situation is worsening and now over 9.6 million people are facing severe hunger, in a country with already high malnutrition rates. Because of the fragile economy, more and more people are unable to meet their basic needs, as high inflation continues to erode families’ purchasing power. An average local food basket takes up at least 75 per cent of household income.

Response

  • The Federal Government, the United Nations and humanitarian partners have jointed efforts to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Sudan. A COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), organized around nine pillars, is currently being implemented by UN agencies, NGOs and other partners in support to the Sudanese Government-led response.

  • Aid actors are establishing quarantine or isolation spaces and shelters, providing the country with COVID-19 testing kits and setting up water points and handwashing stations in IDP and refugee camps and in host communities. Over 1,600 health workers and rapid response teams in at least 277 localities across Sudan have been trained, hygiene kits distributed to nearly 500,000 people and protective equipment to attend the needs of 6,000 health centres in the country. Over 25 million people have been reached with campaigns to raise awareness to prevent transmissions and at least 2.8 million people were reached with food assistance in May.

  • The Transitional Government initiated the Family Support Programme, with support of the World Food Programme (WFP), to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19-related restrictions on vulnerable families. The programme will provide 600,000 families—about 3.6 million people, nearly 80 per cent of the population—with US$5 per person per month.

  • An estimated $582 million was pledged by donors for this programme during the Sudan Partnerships Conference that took place in Berlin on 25 June.

  • The UN and its partners launched on 19 July the COVID-19 addendum to the Humanitarian Response plan, a US$283 million appeal to address the most immediate and critical needs of millions of Sudanese people affected by the health and humanitarian consequences of COVID-19.

  • On 22 August, the Government of Turkey sent medical supplies and equipment to Sudan to assist Government response to COVID-19. The supplies included 50 respirators, 50,000 masks and 50,000 face shields, and 100,000 surgical masks.

  • On 16 August, the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent 24 tons of medical and food aid to assist in COVID-19 and floods response. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sudan in mid-March, the UAE has donated nearly 90 tons of medical supplies and equipment. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development donated 136 tons of medicines to the National Fund for Medical Supplies in Sudan. On 6 June, the UAE-based Al Maktoum Foundation sent 37 tons of medical supplies including protective clothing, masks, sterilizers, glucose, and other supplies to help Sudan fight COVID-19.

Official sources:

Sudan Federal Ministry of Health

WHO Sudan Twitter

Other sources:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Tanzania — Trends

President declares the country COVID-19 free amidst increasing criticism over the lack of information on numbers

  • First case: 16 March

  • Total cases: 509 (as of 8 May 2020)

  • Total deaths: 21

  • Schools: Reopened in June.

  • Borders/flights: Open, no quarantine requested for travellers.

  • Containment measures: no restrictions currently in place.

President John Magufuli announced on 8 June that Tanzania is now COVID-19 free, after all patients reportedly recovered the disease. The President attributed the alleged success over the pandemic to prayers and fasting that the people of Tanzania have offered to God. The confirmed number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 remained at 509, including 21 who died from the disease. The total, however, is likely to be higher, as the Government has not made public any official update since 8 May. The lack of information on numbers led opposition parties in the country to demand the Government, on repeated occasions, the truth about the COVID-19 outbreak, according to media reports. In a health alert released by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania on 13 May, the United States warned its citizens that "despite limited official reports, all evidence points to exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar es Salaam and other locations in Tanzania," adding that "many hospitals in Dar have been overwhelmed in recent weeks".

The President of Tanzania announced on 18 May that the country reopened its borders to international passenger flights and there is no mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers as previously required. Authorities will, instead, enhance COVID-19 screening at the borders. Schools and universities started to reopen from 1 June, and all economic activities are allowed to operate.

The Government suspended on 4 May the head of its National Health Laboratory in charge of COVID-19 testing, a day after the President questioned the accuracy of the tests, stating the material sent by the African Union were faulty. Following the incident, the Head of the African Union’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), on 7 May, rejected the allegations of problems on the materials and informed during a press conference that the tests used by Tanzania are working correctly. Since the start of the pandemic, political parties and civil society organizations have been repeatedly accused the Government of downplaying the effect of the virus and criticized President Magufuli for allegedly hiding information and misleading the population. The leader has been encouraging people to pray and attend church, as religious gatherings are allowed in the country.

Response:

  • The UN Country Team and partners have issued a Flash Appeal requesting for US$158.9 million to provide critical support to 7.4 million vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption on lives and livelihoods from July to December 2020. The COVID-19 Flash Appeal reflects an in-depth elaboration of the requirements for Tanzania that are outlined in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health updates on COVID-19 and Government of Tanzania Spokesperson Official Twitter Other links:

BBC Tanzania COVID-19 coverage

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Uganda — Trends

Government starts to ease containment measures

  • First case: 21 March 2020

  • Total cases: 2,679 (as of 26 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 28

  • Schools: Closed countrywide (9.6 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: All borders closed; International flights suspended until 24 April, except for aircraft in a state of emergency, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights and technical landings.

  • Containment measures: National curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. from 22 July. Shops, hotels and restaurants allowed to resume operations since 26 May; most shopping arcades in Kampala allowed to reopen since on 22 July.

Situation:

The Ministry of Health has confirmed 2,670 COVID-19 cases as of 26 August, including 28 deaths. The Ministry confirmed the country’s first death related to the coronavirus on 23 July. Officials at the Ministry of Health have reportedly announced that quarantine centres for suspected COVID-19 patients are at full capacity, making it impossible to admit more people, according to media reports. The country has reportedly a capacity for 200 patients in public centres, majority of which are filled with returning citizens, according to the authorities. Uganda reportedly started on 26 May a phased easing of restrictions imposed in March to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to media reports. Shops, hotels and restaurants continue to operate since May subject to health guidelines including social distancing guidelines, mandatory use of face masks. Private transports continue to operate except for s border districts to limit cross-border transmissions. Borders remain closed except for cargo transport, Public transport resumed on 4 June. The Government on 1 July temporarily re-opened two border crossings in Uganda’s Zombo District at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to allow entry to asylum seekers from the DRC stranded in an inaccessible area in Mahagi Territory since late May, according to UNHCR. More than 3,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo arrived in Uganda between 1 and 3 July, following a temporary opening of two border crossing points at Golajo and Mount Zeu, north-western Uganda. On 11 August, the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees reporteldy stated that it is considering revoking the refugee status of some people, following the spread of COVID-19 infections and deaths within refugee settlements, according to media reports. This followed reports that a refugee suspected to have died of coronavirus in Hoima refugee camp had allegedly crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and back into the Kyangwali camp in Hoima. The authorities have raised concerns that the crossing by some refugees back into countries of origin and returning back to Uganda is likely to increase the risk of imported transmissions into the country.

Effective 22 July, the President reduced the nationwide curfew and will start at 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., instead of 7 p.m. The Government has further directed the reopening of 110 out of 230 shopping arcades in Kampala, subject to strict adherence to health guidelines on prevention of COVID-19. The President has banned the selling of imported goods from China, India and Dubai and instead trade in locally manufactured goods. Similar restrictions have been extended to salon operators who opened on 21 July, subject to these rules. Motorcycle (bodaboda) riders that were previously restricted to only carrying cargo have been allowed to carry passengers effective 27 July but ensure both rider and passenger follow health and safety regulations and the rider keeps a record of every passenger transported. Parliamentary sessions have been operating in accordance with the health guidelines, with lawmakers working in shifts outside the Parliament building in open air tents and most staff working from home. The Ministry of Health completed the screening of all Cabinet Ministers, after one of the Prime Ministers’ assistant tested positive in June.

Uganda had previously instituted 54 measures to contain the virus, including closing all educational institutions, suspending communal prayers in mosques, churches and other venues, stopping all public political rallies, cultural gatherings or conferences, and banning the movement of all privately-owned passenger vehicles. When the President announced on 14 April the extension of the measures he highlighted that,  even during the  lockdown,  certain activities  should continue, including work on farms to produce crops for food and cash, work in the factories, provided the companies camp their workers nearby, cargo transport, provision of utilities, medical services and others.

Ahead of the presidential election in early 2021, the Electoral Commission announced a ban on public gatherings and campaigns and has urged candidates to use the media instead to get their messages to voters.

According to media reports, at least 10 people have reportedly died as a result of brutality from security personnel implementing the COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Human rights activists and government officials have called on the Government to ensure rights are protected during COVID-19 pandemic period.

Response:

  • The Government has implemented a house-to-house food distribution during the lockdown. President Museveni has stated that the food support is targeted in urban areas towards people who relied on daily earnings that have been impacted by the anti-COVID-19 measures–including working in hair salons; bars; night clubs; garages; selling non-food items in markets; etc–and who do not grow their own food.

  • As of 8 July, UNHCR had installed 318 family tents, as well as nine water tanks, health screening areas, toilets, and handwashing facilities for the new arrivals received in DRC this week.  In addition, UNHCR and partners are providing food, water, medical checks and temporary shelter, and health teams and an ambulance are on stand-by in case anyone requires hospitalization.

  • The Ugandan Health Ministry has been conducting sample COVID-19 testing, with the first 570 samples returning negative. Refugees have received doses of Vitamin A and vaccinations against cholera, measles, rubella and polio. However, the refugee response in Uganda continues to face multiple challenges due to underfunding, including severe food ration cuts.  UNHCR has received just 18 per cent of the US$357 million required for its operation in Uganda in 2020.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health COVID-19 webpage

WHO Uganda

President Museveni’s fourth address (14 April)

Other links:

UNHCR stepping up coronavirus prevention measures for refugees across East, Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Zambia — Trends

Spike in number of infections causes concern in Zambia

  • First case: 18 March 2020

  • Total cases: 11,779 (as of 28 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 283

  • Schools: Closed country-wide from 20 March (4 million learners affected), excetp for examination grades.

  • Borders/Flights: Borders are still open, but international flights are only allowed in and out of Kenneth Kaunda International Lusaka Airport. All travelers to the country will be required to present a negative COVID-19 certificate.

  • Containment measures: Travellers required to self-quarantine for 14 days; public gatherings, including conferences, weddings, funerals and festivals restricted to not more than 50 people.

Situation:

The number of people who contracted COVID-19 in Zambia has increased to 11,779 as of 28 August. The country has recorded 283 deaths. The outbreak has reached all ten provinces and 48 out of 116 districts have confirmed cases. Lusaka and Copperbelt remain the epicentre for the outbreak with increased cases in border point towns including Chirundi, Solwezi and Nakonde. The Ministry of Health announced it will open dedicated health facilities to strengthen case management and respond to the increased cases in Copperbelt and Solwezi districts.The country is reportedly bracing for an economic contraction of over 4 per cent in 2020 because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to economist quoted by media reports.

With the recent increase in cases in the community the Government of Zambia continued to prioritize and strengthen risk communication and community engagement in adhering to public health mitigation efforts. On the 11 August, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced it would deploy police officers to ensure that people are following COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

For the rest of the country, the Government has not ordered any closure of borders at any point of the outbreak to avoid the negative impact on trade and economy. However, authorities in Zambia have imposed a requirement that all travelers to the country should be required to present a negative COVID-19 certificate. The Government has banned public gatherings and, effective 26 March, gyms, bars, casinos and night clubs were closed, and restaurants allowed to only serve takeaway. Essential services, including pharmacies and food stores, remain open, with orders to adhere to strict hygiene standards. Schools, colleges and universities were closed from 20 March, but markets and churches continue to operate. On 8 May, the Government lifted some of the initial measures and recommended the opening of schools for student examination years and opening of restaurants and gyms subject to adhere to public health measures and to social distancing. The wearing of masks in public places became mandatory and all retail business are required to have handwashing facilities at the entrances of their businesses.

Nearly 1.2 million children are missing out on school meals in Zambia due to the COVID-19 containment measures, according to WFP. Schools have re-opened only for examination classes to ensure that end of year examinations continue as planned.

The Zambian economy is expected to be adversely impacted by the decline in copper prices, depreciation of local currency, and economic disruptions due to lockdowns in trading partners, according to the IMF.

Response

  • The United Nations and humanitarian partners launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

  • Partners have distributed hygiene supplies, including soap and chlorine, for 733 schools across the country by the beginning of July.

  • Partners have also trained health workers on case management in Copperbelt, Central and Northern Provinces. Additionally, a total of 141 health-care facilities and isolation centres benefitted from WASH and IPC improvement measures. In the capital, Lusaka, partners supported a 20-day campaign sensitization campaign that reached 400,000 people. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health Facebook Page

Ministry of Health Situation Reports

President’s address on COVID-19 impact and response - 25 March 2020

Other links:

Global Monitoring of School Meals During COVID-19 School Closures, by WFP

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Zimbabwe — Trends
Zimbabwe: WFP
A group of people stand in food distribution lines in Chimanimani District. Photo: WFP

Government declares COVID-19 crisis a national disaster

  • First case: 20 March

  • Total cases: 6,292 (as of 27 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 189

  • Schools: Closed (4.1 million learners affected)

  • Borders/Flights: No commercial international flights permitted during nationwide lockdown. Borders remain open for cargo.

  • Containment measures: Nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.; domestic travels allowed only for seeking/providing essential services; seven-day mandatory quarantine at Government facilities for travellers or those who had contact with symptomatic people.

Situation:

Zimbabwe confirmed that 6,292 people had contracted COVID-19, including 189 who died from the disease, as of 27 August. The Government declared the COVID-19 crisis a “National Disaster” on 27 March and introduced an initial 21-day national lockdown on 30 March. The measure has later been extended indefinitely with a review every two weeks. The capital city Harare has become the new epicentre for COVID-19 as health authorities have reported more than 2,498 COVID-19 infections in the city, overtaking Bulawayo City which has 1,260 confirmed local cases. The increase in COVID-19 cases is a major concern as the country’s health system is currently overwhelmed, amid chronic medicine shortages and strikes by health workers over the lack of drugs and poor working conditions. Over 480 health-care workers have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus in Zimbabwe which constitutes about 11 per cent of the total number of cases that have been recorded so far, according to media reports.

The nationwide curfew has been shortened to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. from and will still be enforced by security officers. Only essential services are exempt from this curfew, while all on-working sections of the population be required to stay at home, except for purposes of securing food, water, and health services. All travellers will be required to wear masks or equivalent protective materials; observe social distancing and undergo mandatory screening at all public places and buildings. All business premises must operate from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., except for providers of essential services. Food markets will remain open while inter-city/town public transport and inessential transport to all rural areas remain banned. Public gatherings for social, religious, or political purposes remain banned. Funeral gatherings remain curtailed, in line with public health requirements. Desertion from places of quarantine by returnees and infected persons, resulting in the exposure of innocent lives to the virus will be considered a criminal act. More than 105,000 people have been arrested in Zimbabwe since March for violating regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, according to the police. The Government has been accused of using the measures to target the opposition and arrest activists. All international passenger flights in and out of Zimbabwe remain suspended except for returning Zimbabwean nationals and permit holders while borders remain open for cargo. Schools initially scheduled to reopen on 28 July will remain closed until further notice. Mid-year public examinations that started on 29 June were completed on 22 July in 800 centres. Citizens have been advised to limit their visits to the informal markets, which are still allowed to function. People found guilty of spreading fake news on coronavirus can be charged with 20 years of prison.

Following several reports of police brutality during the State of Emergency, the High Court granted on 14 April, an interim order that any enforcement officers engaged in implementing the country’s lockdown must respect human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. On 20 May, the Heads of Mission of the Delegation of the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America issued a statement exhorting the Government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights. The letter follows the abduction and torture of two leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and a member of the Parliament, all opponents of the Government. The three women were reportedly sexually assaulted by police officers after being arrested during a protest in Harare on 13 May over the impact of COVID-19-related restrictions on vulnerable families.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) group has raised concerns over the severe water and sanitation crisis, which is likely to undermine the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. According to HRW, thousands of women and school-age children are spending eight to nine hours and all night in lines at crowded boreholes or narrow water wells to get water, increasing risks of violence. The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe has reported that at least 764 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) occurred during the first 11 days of the COVID-19 national lockdown, above the monthly average of 500 GBV cases.

As of 25 August, 16,296 migrants from Zimbabwe have returned to the country since March from neighbouring nations, the majority of them from South Africa, according to IOM. The large majority of returnees arrived through the points of entry of Beitbridge border post, Plumtree, Harare International airport and Forbes.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Zimbabwe was already facing increased humanitarian needs due to multiple climate shocks and a harsh economic crisis. The health system was nearly collapsing and at least 7 million people in urban and rural areas across Zimbabwe were facing increasing hunger and in need of assistance.

Response:

  • The Government launched its COVID-19 National Preparedness and Response Plan on 19 March and has said it will increase cash transfers for 1 million vulnerable households.

  • In May, Zimbabwe was added to the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19, with $85 million required to reach 5.9 million people with urgent COVID-19-related assistance. This comes on top of the pre-existing requirement of $715 million to reach 5.6 million people in Zimbabwe with life-saving assistance and protection, which was called for under the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

  • As schools remain closed, broadcasting lessons commenced on 16 June across five ZBC radio stations for primary school level. Supplementary feeding for 6,000 children living with HIV in Harare, Goromonzi and Chitungwiza District was distributed. Over 1.5 million people received either in-kind food distribution, cash, or vouchers in June 2020 in both rural and urban areas. To limit the risk of infection by community health workers, screening of acute malnutrition has continued following the adoption of the mother-led mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement. In the first three weeks of June 2020, 111,383 children were screened for acute malnutrition with 83 per cent of the children being screened at community level in 25 nutrition priority districts. Out of these, 120 children were admitted for treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and 80 were admitted for treatment of severe acute malnutrition. The national GBV Hotline (Musasa) has recorded a total of 2,768 GBV calls from the beginning of the lockdown on 30 March until 13 June, with an overall average increase of over 70 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown trends.

Official sources:

Ministry of Information Official Twitter and Ministry of Health Official Twitter

Zimbabwe COVID-19 Dashboard and Ministry of Health Daily Updates

Other links:

Unsafe Water Raises COVID-19 Risks, by Human Rights Watch

20 years in jail for spreading fake coronavirus news, by The Standard

High Court granted an interim order that police must respect human rights, by ZLHR Lawyers

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Interactive

Interactive map - COVID-19 in Southern and Eastern Africa

Click to see the number of people who contracted the virus, deaths and the trends of the pandemic across the region and by country. Updated daily.

Interactive map

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