The COVID-19 situation in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region is in its eighth 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 28 October, there were 189,406 confirmed COVID19 cases in the 11 countries overseen by the EHAGL Bureau. For the past week, the EHAGL region reports 11% of the total COVID-19 cases in Africa, as well as a decrease from 20% to 19% of the total tests reported on the continent. Since the first confirmed COVID-19 related death on 21 March, there are now some reported 3,597 deaths in the region, (equivalent to an increase from 8% to 9% in the last week of the death cases on the continent) of which 89% are in three countries – Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.
While so far there has still 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.
Nevertheless, UNHCR remains on heightened alert as recent figures demonstrate that cases across the region are on the increase. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda especially have seen a recent spike in numbers. In South Sudan, the Doctors Union (SSDU) has warned that the country is most likely to experience a second wave of COVID-19 with more fatal cases if heightened efforts to fight the virus are not implemented. The SSDU has cautioned that many citizens and officials appear to have relaxed safety measures.