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 14 October, there were 169,7419 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 11 countries overseen by the EHAGL Bureau. For the past two weeks, the EHAGL region reports an increase from 10% to 11% of the total COVID-19 cases in Africa, as well as 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 3,292 deaths in the region (equivalent to 9% 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.
COVID-19 prevention and awareness have now been integrated in most of UNHCR’s activities across the region. UNHCR continues to work on the procurement of machines and test kits to support urgent needs in certain operations such as Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan. The COVID-19 response challenges in the region are compounded by floods in several countries leading to additional displacement and, in many areas, affecting UNHCR’s ability to access persons of concern