The COVID-19 situation in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region has entered its six month since the first cases were reported in March 2020. As the situation continues to evolve, the region is still relatively less impacted than the rest of the continent. As of 5 August, there were 70,252 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 11 countries overseen by the EHAGL Bureau. While this represents close to 10% growth in the past week, this number still accounts for only 7% of cases on the continent. Since the first confirmed COVID-19 related death on 21 March, there are now some reported 1,700 deaths in the region, of which 85% are in three countries – Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia. On 3 August, Ethiopia reported its highest death toll in a single day, 28 persons.
While so far there has been no large-scale outbreak in the approximately 100 refugee camps and settlements in the region, 4.6 million refugees and their host communities are at risk, as are some 8.1 million IDPs. The need for preparedness remains urgent as cases are still rising in all countries of the region and a number of locations still lack adequate quarantine, testing and isolation/treatment facilities.
Governments have put in place various measures to contain the spread of the virus and are periodically announcing changes to movement and other restrictions. Despite cases continuing to rise, most governments are gradually lifting the preventive measures initially adopted in an attempt to mitigate the economic slowdown they triggered. Several governments re-opened their international air space to commercial flights during the reporting period, notably Kenya and Rwanda.
With the exception of certain restrictions imposed by insecurity or climate related factors (i.e. flooding), UNHCR and partners have obtained waivers to movement restrictions or otherwise retained access to Persons of Concern throughout the region, albeit sometimes only for reduced/essential service provision.