West and Central Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Trends

Mauritania

Record increase in new coronavirus cases

  • First case: 10 March 2020

  • Total cases: 5,985 (as of 23 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 155

  • Schools: Closed

  • Borders/flights: All borders closed.

  • Containment measures: A nightly curfew is in place and traffic between the thirteen regions banned. Obligation to wear masks in public spaces; mosques are closed again.

Situation:

The country which declared itself without new positive case on 22 April suddenly saw the number of contamination jump in the space of a few weeks. To prevent the situation from worsening, the government took a series of measures on 21 May, for the holiday weekend marking the end of Ramadan. Schools and universities remain closed until at least the end of June.

On 14 May, the Interior Minister said that the country would continue to ease certain measures initially taken as part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but people have to wear masks in public spaces (markets) and mosques will be closed again.

Response

On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, local representations of the International Labor Office (ILO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) set distributed 11,000 protective masks to Malian refugees in the Mbéra camp. Located 1,400 km from Nouakchott, it is currently hosting 63,000 refugees who have fled their country since 2012. Since the first cases of Covid-19 in Mauritania in March, ILO and UNHCR have carried out joint awareness-raising actions to avoid the spread of the virus in Mbéra.

The Mauritanian Minister of Defense was appointed by the President on 18 May, to ensure the implementation of the decisions to be taken by the inter ministerial committee in charge of the fight against Covid-19 led by the Prime Minister. This appointment happened in a context in which the Minister of Health is increasingly overwhelmed by the situation due to the appearance of cases of local transmission in the country and the initiation of a strategy that aims to gradually alleviate a containment that has had a strong impact on the informal sector, a source of income for the overwhelming majority of the Mauritanian population.

To help provide much-needed resources for health services and social protection programs, the IMF Board on 23 April 2020 granted to Mauritania an emergency financing of $130 million under the Rapid Credit Facility. The country has also appealed to development partners for additional financing.

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