Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic in in the Central African Republic (CAR) mid-March through 31 October 2020, the country has officially recorded 4,875 cases, including 62 deaths. Most cases have been reported in the capital Bangui’s urban area. Schools officially and fully reopened on 19 October, following more than six months of partial or total closure.
In this reporting period results achieved by UNICEF and partners include:
• 169,262 people were reached with critical WASH supplies and services • 98 schools equipped with handwashing stations to ensure safe back to school;
• 42,860 additional children following lessons on the radio;
• 53,242 children aged 6 months-10 years vaccinated against pneumonia also receiving soap
• 4,247 children aged 6-59 months admitted for treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across the country;
• 208 children without parental care provided with appropriate family-based care
• 11,560 children and community members received psychosocial support.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the Central African Republic (CAR) in mid-March until 31 October 2020, 4,875 positive cases were registered, including 62 deaths. The seven health regions of the country have reported cases, with the capital Bangui and its urban area being the most affected by the pandemic. Overall, with an incidence rate of about 100 officially registered cased per 100,000 people, CAR is among the lesser affected countries, worldwide and in Africa (sources: Johns Hopkins University and Worldometers). However, relatively few tests are carried out in CAR – about 1,100 per month during the period covered by this report according to Ministry of Health and Population data – leaving the real extent of the pandemic in the country only partially known.
Still, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), CAR is one of the least prepared countries to deal with COVID19, with 2.3 million people already in need of health assistance and about 70% of health services provided by humanitarian organisations (OCHA). The country's healthcare system, already under severe stress before the pandemic, has been further put under pressure. Stocks of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers cover less than a third of estimated needs for the coming months. Only two respirators are currently available in CAR (OCHA). In this situation, responding to the pandemic while maintaining the functioning of essential services is challenging.
The schools, closed nationwide since 27 March, fully reopened on 19 October with considerable difficulty. According to the Education Cluster, around 1.4 million children left the school system due to the closure of schools. The risk is that a high percentage will not return to school, in a country where only 49 per cent of children manage to complete primary school.