The COVID-19 situation in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region is in its ninth 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 02 December, there were 254,768 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 11 countries overseen by the EHAGL Bureau. For the past month, the EHAGL region reported 12% of the total COVID-19 cases in Africa, as well as 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 4,949 deaths in the region, (equivalent to 9% of the death cases on the continent) of which 90% 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. Some 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. The ongoing conflict and the declaration of a six-month state of emergency in the Tigray Region in Ethiopia has led to a humanitarian crisis, including for the Eritrean refugees who reside there, and with the arrival of some 50,000 Ethiopian refugees to Sudan in the last month. Efforts are being made to include COVID-19 precautions in the response to this new emergency.