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UNHCR West & Central Africa COVID-19 Response External Update, 06 April 2020

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The COVID-19 situation in West and Central Africa region is evolving rapidly, with dozens of new cases reported each day since the first one was declared in Nigeria on 28 February 2020.

Adding to the current challenges linked to conflict and political tensions, the COVID-19 puts already fragile national health systems and economies under increased pressure.

UNHCR operations are supporting governments to address the crisis and focusing their efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on over nine million forcibly displaced persons in the region.


2,725* total cases in West & Central Africa as of 06 April 2020

*Include active cases, recovered, deaths 21/21 countries reporting local transmission of COVID-19

0 reported COVID-19 cases amongst persons of concern.

Operational Context

Rapid increase of confirmed cases.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was declared in Nigeria on 28 February 2020, the pandemic has progressed steadily throughout West and Central Africa where it has killed 65 people. As of 06 April 2020,
WHO statistics show 2,725 confirmed cases in the 21 countries covered by the Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa with 2,259 still active and 399 who recovered. Most cases are reported in Cameroon (658) followed by Burkina Faso (364), Côte d’Ivoire (323), Ghana (287), Nigeria (238) and Senegal (226) (details in the attached dashboard). No cases have been reported among UNHCR’s persons of concern.

Restrictions on international movement. Countries in West and Central Africa have officially imposed various levels of restriction on international movements, from complete to partial border closures and mandatory self-quarantine on travelers arriving in-country. However, the Central African Republic and Guinea refer to humanitarian flights as an exception of the suspension of air travels. As for Cote d’Ivoire, the creation of the humanitarian corridor has been announced as an exception to borders closure. There is a risk of refoulement in the region as potential movements of Malians, Nigerians, Nigeriens, Cameroonians and Sudanese seeking international protection may be hindered by these restrictions. Restrictive measures have also been taken domestically, with many countries having banned public gatherings, closed schools and other administrations, imposing curfews or lockdowns on major cities. So far, no COVID-related restrictions specifically targeting refugees or asylum seekers has been reported.

Poor public health system. In most countries in the region, persons of concern have access to national health services. However, major gaps exist, including limited numbers of trained health personnel in emergency response and in case detection and management as well as inadequate treatment units, particularly in remote areas hosting refugees and IDPs, in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Mali or Niger. The already fragile health situation of the region, characterized by the persistence of diseases such as malaria, respiratory infections, measles and diarrhea, is exacerbated by a precarious security condition.