Government replaces on 26 May the State of Emergency by a State of Calamity
First case: 19 March 2020
Total cases: 71 (as of 27 May 2020)
Total deaths: 4
Schools: Closed (affecting nearly 8.7 million leaners).
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.
Angola had confirmed that 71 people contracted coronavirus in the country, including four who died from the disease, as of 27 May. The first local transmission of the virus was registered on 28 April, increasing concerns of a faster increase in the number of people affected.
The Government reportedly replaced on 26 May the State of Emergency declared on 27 March over the coronavirus outbreak by a State of Calamity, according to media reports. The new measure will be in place until 9 June and will reportedly enable the country to gradually open its economic and social life, but 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. The rest of the country will resume activities in a phased manner, with factories, farming and fisheries already allowed to operate. Schools are expected to resume from 13 July, according to the media. 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 human rights group informed that, according to police data released on 1 May, nearly 300 people have been detained for violating the State of Emergency rules. Enforcing the measures outlined in the State of Emergency, the police reportedly informed that the ban on travel, meetings and public activities imposed on 27 March has only been adhered to by a small part of the population, according to media reports.
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.
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.