The first case of COVID-19 in Iraq was recorded on 24th February 2020. Since then, the transmission status has moved from sporadic to clusters and is now in the community transmission phase. As of 24th August, the total number of confirmed cases is 204,341 with 6,428 associated deaths. Although cases in IDP camps were not common and controlled till recent weeks, this is no longer the case, with community transmission being observed here as well.
The main aim of this document is to provide guidance to partners in the field so that they are able to set up Quarantine/Isolation (Q/I) areas within the premises of camps, utilizing available resources in the best manner, once the Ministry of Health’s capacity to manage cases in public hospitals is overwhelmed due to a rising caseload.
The Iraq Health and Shelter clusters had developed the first version of this document in April 2020, with input from CCCM, Protection, Food Security and WASH clusters. The current document is a revision to that guidance, based on the emerging COVID-19 situation in the country as of September 2020, where the capacity of the Ministry of Health (MoH) to manage cases in government-identified facilities has become over-stretched and Quarantine areas have been set up in several IDP camps across Iraq.
In line with the Iraq Country Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan Against COVID-19, the main aims of this document are to:
Limit human-to-human transmission, including reducing secondary infections among close contacts and healthcare workers, preventing transmission amplification events, and preventing further spread from Iraq;
Identify, isolate, and care for patients early, including providing optimized care for infected patients; and referring them to higher level healthcare when required;
Communicate critical risk and event information to all communities, and counter misinformation;
Minimize social and economic impact through multisectoral partnerships.
This document is developed using technical input from the Interim Guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in Camps and Camp-like Settings and Key Considerations for Selecting Health Infrastructure for the Response to COVID-19 in addition to other technical guidance documents developed by WHO and referenced accordingly.
The existing capacity of partners (Health/WASH/CCCM/Food Security/Shelter and NFI) should be built upon in addressing the issue of establishing quarantine and isolation areas to manage travel/contact cases (for quarantine) or mild/moderate cases of COVID-19 (for isolation) that may be present in IDP camps. In addition, this document serves as advocacy tool, seeking resources to upscale the humanitarian response to COVID cases in camps. Taking this into account, different stages are presented below, where one or more situations may fit individual camps in different governorates.
Based on the Health Scenario Planning document (Annex 1), quarantine areas shall be set up in IDP camps with an aim to be partially or fully used as an isolation facility, should the number of mild/moderate cases in camps become overwhelming. Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures should be the same for both quarantine and isolation facilities. Throughout the document, reference is made to Quarantine / Isolation (Q/I) areas.
The document intends to provide guidance for the optimal establishment and management of Q/I areas. Nonetheless, land availability, site topography, availability of resources, community acceptance, etc. may vary on a case by case basis and may differ from what is being recommended. Hence, relevant partners shall seek advice from their respective clusters, to ensure alternative solutions are identified and implemented.