Djibouti + 23 more

Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (22 May 2020)

Situation Report
Originally published
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  • Several countries in Southern and Eastern Africa have reported a significant uptick in daily cases over the past week, including Kenya and South Africa.

  • All countries in Southern and Eastern Africa have now been affected by the pandemic, with Lesotho recording its first case on 13 May. Cross-border transmission is a rising concern.

  • The pandemic has gained considerable pace in the region: numbers of people who contracted COVID-19 rose from 6,848 in 24 countries on 22 April to 33,276 in 26 countries by 22 May.

  • Multiple locations have reported a spike in gender-based violence during the outbreak, as communities face rising economic pressure.

  • Resources are urgently needed to scale-up the life-saving response and common services for the outbreak.

- 33,276 total cases in the region (as of 22 May)
- 739 total deaths
- 26 countries affected in the region


Government starts to ease restrictions while number of people with COVID-19 surpasses 1,800

  • First case: 17 March 2020
  • Total cases: 2,047 (as of 21 May 2020)
  • Total deaths: 10
  • Schools: Closed, affecting over 142,000 learners.
  • Borders/Flights: All land, sea, and air borders closed effective from 18 March 2020. Only cargo flights are authorized.
  • Containment measures: Quarantine mandatory for those who have had contact with positive cases; lockdown restricting of movements and closure of all non-essential services since 24 March.


The number of people with COVID-19 is rising in Djibouti, with 2,047 cases confirmed on 21 May, according to the Ministry of Health. With a total population of around one million people, Djibouti is reportedly the country with the highest prevalence of the disease in the continent, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, quoted by the media. Recent rains and floods across the country have affected more than 110,000 people and displaced many of them, increasing the risk of community transmission.

The Government announced on 10 May the gradual lift of COVID-19-related restrictions from 17 May, when the extended State of Emergency is expected to expire. Most business and economic activities will be allowed to resume, following specific guidelines, including the use of mask and social distance. The lockdown was imposed on 23 March, with all stores closed with the exception of food markets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations. Schools have also been closed, affecting 142,564 learners countrywide. Previously, the Government had already closed the airport for all commercial flights since 18 March, allowing cargo to operate normally.


  • The Ministry of Health and its partners have increased their preparedness by building surveillance, testing, quarantine and health worker capacity. WHO has delivered protective and medical equipment, including tests and respirators.

  • On 9 April, the United Nations organized a virtual conference on COVID-19, with the participation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the spokesperson for the Government, the Minister for the Economy and Finance, religious leaders, the representative of WHO and the United Nations Resident Coordinator. The conference discussed Government and UN response actions to the COVID-19 crisis.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health website

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

United Nations Country Team in Djibouti - Situation Reports

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit