Over the past week South Asia region saw another significant spike with the number of cases increasing by more 168% from 3107 to 8338 cases. The cases in India jumped by more than 273% from 1117 to 4169 while in Afghanistan the cases more than doubled from 145 to 367 cases. In Pakistan more than 1855 new cases have been reported bringing the total to 3505.
Reports of cases in Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum in Mumbai where more than half a million people live in less than 2.5 square kilometres has raised concerns that without timely action the epidemic if left unchecked could cause a wave of contagion that could overwhelm the public health system.
Most countries in the region have extended their lockdown as part of containment and prevention strategy. Preliminary reports indicate that such shutdowns have had negative consequences on service delivery systems and livelihoods. UNICEF in collaboration with other agencies is assessing the collateral impacts of the pandemic and engaging the governments to provide social protection systems to the most vulnerable.
Over 224 million people have been reached across the region with key COVID-19 prevention messages as UNICEF country offices continue to support governments in promoting risk communication and community engagement.
With the high demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) combined with export ban from major markets, procurement for these critical supplies for small countries is a major challenge and UNICEF is exploring local alternatives to source the supplies.
UNICEF is appealing for $80.4 million to reach 60 million people with risk communication, critical supplies, adequate health care, continuous education, child protection and social protection services to address.