West and Central Africa COVID-19 Digest

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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