The world is facing a global crisis unlike any since the World War II, one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives. This is a moment that demands coordinated, decisive and innovative action from all parts of the society. While recognizing that the current responses at the country level will fall short of addressing the global scale and complexity of the crisis, this document outlines the manner in which the humanitarian community is coming together in a coordinated way to support the government-led response efforts to this crisis as it unfolds in the Philippines.
In its present iteration, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) COVID-19 Response Plan is primarily focusing on health system support interventions and will need regular updating to match the unique and evolving nature of this crisis, one which is expected to have a disproportionate impact on the poorest and most marginalized communities and further exacerbate pre-COVID 19 social inequalities, such as the occurrence of gender-based violence (See final page for a description of the Humanitarian Country team in the Philippines, its leadership and member organizations and networks)
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to a cluster of pneumonia patients in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A week later,
Chinese authorities confirmed that they identified a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) as the cause of the pneumonia.
In January, the first three cases were recorded in the Philippines, all with confirmed travel history to Wuhan City in China. On 5 March, a first case of COVID-19 with no travel history abroad was confirmed, indicating the presence of local transmission.
As of 03 April, 1 2,633 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Philippines and 107 deaths. According to WHO, among the confirmed cases, 1,603 are male (61%) and 1, 030 are female (39%). The most affected age groups are 60-69 (23%) followed by 50-59 years (22%).
Public health risks
While everyone is at risk to be infected by COVID-19, older people and persons with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and respiratory diseases or with compromised immune systems, including people with HIV, as well as frontline health workers, are the most
vulnerable. Wide-spread community transmission is most likely to occur among mobile communities, people living in poor, densely populated urban settings and any community with inadequate access to proper hygiene supplies and with constrained hygiene and sanitation practices and nutrition services. If this was to occur, it would overwhelm the capacity of healthcare facilities, particularly in densely populated areas. Very worryingly, all the above factors coexist in camp-like settings, where large numbers of people, already in often protracted dire conditions, are forced to live in cramped conditions given the critical lack of alternative shelter options.
Economic and Social impact
The pandemic is already having a significant disruptive impact on the economy and will negatively impact growth well beyond 2020. Movement restrictions and the downturn of global economic activity will further limit household incomes and add to job losses domestically, disproportionally affecting the poor, especially those dependent on the informal sectors.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) already revised its economic growth outlook for the Philippines dropping a full one percent to a 5.5 to 6.5 per cent GDP growth in 2020. Aside from the anticipated slowdown in economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the access of people to livelihoods and basic social services such as health, education, food and nutrition, water and sanitation, information, communication and transport. This is further heightening the vulnerability of poor households and communities. The situation will also likely exacerbate intimate partner violence, violence against children, neglect as well as other forms of violence.
The situation is still rapidly evolving and global economic developments, international travel restrictions and movement restriction measures throughout the country need to be further assessed in light of their economic impact
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.