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UNHCR East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes Region COVID-19 External Update #18 (20 August – 2 September 2020)

Situation Report
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Operational Context

The COVID-19 situation in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region has entered its seventh 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 1 September, there were 120,484 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 11 countries overseen by the EHAGL Bureau. In the past two weeks, the EHAGL region reported an increase from 8% to 10% of the total COVID-19 cases in Africa, as well as in increase from 18% to 20% of the total tests reported on the continent. Since the first confirmed COVID-19 related death on 21 March, there are now some reported 2,503 deaths in the region (equivalent to 8% of the death cases on the continent) of which 89% are in three countries – Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

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, and gradually lifting preventive measures initially adopted. In South Sudan, a letter from the Chairman of the National Taskforce on COVID-19 was issued on 28 August lifting the 14-day quarantine or negative test requirement prior to inter-state travel for humanitarian workers. This will significantly ease humanitarian movements within the country, which had been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions put in place in March 2020. The 14-day quarantine requirements upon arrival into South Sudan from abroad remains applicable.