The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region surpassed one million during October. A total of 1,047,124 confirmed cases and 24,997 deaths (CFR 2.4%) have been recorded since the first case was confirmed on 5th March 2020.
South Africa still has highest number of new cases but consistently registered reduced rate of new infection rates over the last six weeks. There is demonstrated evidence of a resurgence of infections in some countries, in Kenya 25% of the confirmed cases were reported in October alone. Increasing infections and hospitalization remain a real threat to continuity of essential health services.
Health worker infections continue due to limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). In October, 3,452 infections were reported among health care workers and new cases remain a major cause of concern as health services are disrupted, facilities are closed for disinfection, and health workers have to go into self-isolation for prolonged periods of time.
The desire by citizens to resume full-time economic activity especially among the daily earners poses a challenge to preventive measures. Lack of social security measures in many countries makes the Governments reluctant to enforce the preventive measures exposing citizens to increased risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Food insecurity persists and is expected to worsen in the next three months due to drought in Southern Africa. The desert and African migratory locusts swarming in Eastern, Horn and Southern Africa present a major threat, and could destroy new crops in the coming season. Governments and partners are enhancing preparedness for the anticipated La Niña phenomenon in the East and Horn of Africa.
Flooding and conflict across the East African countries have hampered COVID-19 prevention measures especially among the displaced populations facing severe water, sanitation and hygiene challenges.
The escalation of conflict in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique has seen over 350,000 people displaced in the last six months; the region also has the second highest COVID-19 burden in the country after the capital Maputo.