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.
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.
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.