West and Central Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report


Sharp rise in cases in Benin

  • First case: 16 March 2020

  • Total cases: 1,690 (as of 23 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 34

  • Schools: Reopened since 11 May with strict instructions on distancing, hygiene and distribution of masks, after several weeks of closure.

  • Borders/flights: Land and air borders with systematic screening of travellers on arrival in Benin. Only essential crossings will be allowed in connection with neighbouring countries.

  • Containment measures: State of Emergency declared at the beginning of April. Easing of containment measures took effect on 2 June. Bars and places of worship, which have been closed since March are allowed to reopen. Barrier measures are still in place, including wearing a mask in public places, respecting social distancing, and hand washing. Public transport, also stopped since March, can run again by imposing all these rules on their passengers.


As of 17 July, Benin reported 1,602 total cases and 31 fatalities. Treatment centres are filling up and serious cases are being reported. Some 789 patients are under treatment. Three prefectures in the south of the country, including the economic capital Cotonou (959 cases), are the most affected. Some health and political sources explain this sudden outbreak by the massive screening in progress and a laxity in the respect of anti-Covid measures. Awareness-raising has resumed and the police are conducting operations to control the compulsory wearing of masks and respect for social distancing in passenger transport buses.

In addition to the health sector, the epidemic effects are being felt in key sectors such as: agriculture and food security, water hygiene and sanitation, sustainable production and consumption, transport and communication, health, education and consequently employment, economy, human rights and gender sectors.

Response: Government coordination arrangements include a High-Level COVID-19 Task Force, chaired by the Ministry of Health. 

The government has developed a response plan for the construction and supply of equipment for two acute respiratory infection treatment centres, the modernization of ten existing health establishments to transform them into COVID-19 treatment centres and the capacity building of treatment centres staff as well as communication with communities.

UN agencies helped coordinate technical, material and financial support for the country. This includes: the development of the health contingency plan; development of the UN contingency plan; support for design and construction of COVID-19 treatment centers; support for surveillance at entry points; support onepidemiological monitoring; support with PPE availability, reagents and laboratory equipment; and support in awareness and communication.

The private sector mobilized close to US $3 million. Ali Baba Foundation donated health equipment (a thousand medical protective uniforms with face shields and 100,000 face masks).

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