Congo

Republic of Congo: EVD Preparedness - Operation Update Report n° 1 (MDRCG017)

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Situation Report
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Summary of major revisions made to emergency plan of action:

This DREF Operation update is published to inform stakeholders about the following decision:

 A second DREF allocation of CHF 53,729 to supplement the initially allocated CHF 156,587 for a total grant of CHF 210,316. This additional allocation will allow the National Society to cover costs relating to:

• Strengthening the NS capacities in safe and dignified burials (SDB) and community engagement and accountability (CEA) pillars through trainings, simulation and supervision. This will be carried out through immediate deployment of two teams of CEA and SDB trainers (total of six members out of which four will be deployed for two weeks and 2 – 1 CEA and 1 SDB-- will remain for two months to ensure continuous training and supervision in case of an Ebola outbreak in Republic of Congo.
• Two weeks security mission to support NS to complete business continuity plan
• Additional communication and transport of volunteers to the training places
• One more month deployment for the identified Surge Operations Manager originally planned for two months
• Additional translation and communication costs (see table in Financial paragraph and budget).

 A timeframe extension of three months (new end date: 31 December 2020). Overall operational timeframe is now six months to ensure effective implementation of the operation, which has been delayed by several factors including:

• The movement restriction measures linked with COVID -19 pandemic
• Government prioritization of the response activities against COVID-19 and other competing country emergencies
• Highly reduced workforce of the General Secretariat of the National Society (sane staff had to work on multiple operations)
• Delayed deployment of the identified Operational Surge as per work plan due to security reasons.

The operations manager is finally due to arrive be the end of September. The rationale behind the above-mentioned modification stems from the intensification of the epidemic in the DRC along the border areas with the Republic of Congo (RoC) in week 37 (7 to 13 September). This resurgence has led WHO to indicating on 11 September that RoC is very high risk of EVD outbreak spill over. Considering the Congolese Red Cross is the only actor having the mandate for SDB, on 15 September, WHO requested IFRC to inform on the level of SDB preparedness of the NS in case of an imminent outbreak.

Considering competing emergency priorities and the overstretched capacities of the team, both the NS and IFRC deemed necessary to support the NS to rapidly increase readiness capacities of the 122 identified volunteers in SDB and CEA pillars to speed up the completion of the preparedness activities and be able to effectively respond in case of an outbreak in RoC. In addition to the trainings in SDB and CEA, the new operational strategy also foresees a refocus of the prioritization of activities in high risk geographical areas such as the bordering areas with DRC (i.e. Liranga and Impfondo).

A short security mission has also been included to complete business continuity planning developed by the NS and guarantee that the safety and security standards are met for the deployment of the Operations Manager and the SDB- CEA trainers. The security delegate arrived in Brazzaville on Saturday 03 October 2020. Costs related to communication, and transport of volunteers for trainings have equally been reviewed. The ongoing deployment of the Surge will enable the National Society to speed up the implementation of its plan, especially with respect to training volunteers on safe and dignified burials (SDB), strengthening community-based feedback, risk communication and community engagement.

Yaoundé CCST is sending additional resources and re focusing the targeting on the border area identified as high risk by WHO. In addition, the distance between localities demands extra costs and/or shifting between lines, but other support costs such as those related to the deployment of the Security delegate and resource persons for the trainings on SDB and CEA will be integrated in the initial budget of the operation which has increased upwards from CHF 156,587 to CHF 210,316 in the update.

A. SITUATION ANALYSIS

Description of the disaster On 1 June 2020, the Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared the 11th outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Equateur province, which shares a river border and significant trade and social links with the Republic of Congo (RoC).

The recent intensification of the epidemic in the DRC along the bordering areas with RoC in the week 37 (7-13 September) has led WHO to indicate that RoC is at very high risk of EVD outbreak spill over on the 11 September. Considering that RoC RC is the only actor having the mandate for SDB, on September 15, WHO requested IFRC to inform on the level of SDB preparedness of the NS in case of an imminent outbreak.
Situation in DRC as of 24 September 2020:

• A total of 124 confirmed and probable cases, of which 50 have died (40%) since the beginning of the epidemic, with 62 people having recovered from EVD

• The vast majority of cases are not registered contacts and most do not have documented epidemiological links to other cases, indicating very poor surveillance and case detection capacity, and increasing the risk of spill over to new communities and countries.

There is sustained transmission of EVD in DRC areas bordering on and sharing significant social and trade links with neighbouring communities in ROC. Contacts of known cases have crossed into ROC, and not all of them are accounted for. These factors significantly increase the risk of an EVD outbreak in ROC. Indeed, on the week from 7 to 13 September, two suspected cases were reported by the Director of Epidemic Control and Disease of the Ministry of Health, which turned out to be negative. However, readiness needs to increase rapidly and significantly to appropriately response to suspect cases, to reduce the risk of onwards transmission and a larger outbreak resulted from first imported cases.