UNICEF works in 22 countries and territories1 in Europe and Central Asia Region (ECAR) and is present in Italy, supporting refugee and migrant populations. During the reporting period:
• Montenegro recorded the highest number of new cases (2,474) per 100,000 population, followed by Georgia, Croatia, and Armenia. Only Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reported lower numbers compared to the previous month. Turkmenistan continued to report no confirmed cases.
• In an intensive regionally led effort, UNICEF, in partnership with WHO, Gavi, the World Bank and others, has been providing technical support to ECAR countries in preparation for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines as part of the global initiative, on behalf of the COVAX Facility. During the reporting period, specialists from 17 countries participating in the COVAX Facility were briefed on monitoring, cold chain assessment, and assisting Ministries of Health on their submissions for technical assistance.
• 186 million people have now been reached with messaging on COVID-19 prevention and access to services – 1.2 million more compared to the previous month. UNICEF intensified its focus on analyzing social media and other online data to generate meaningful strategic insights that will inform more effective messaging. Social listening is being implemented as a key strategy in overcoming pandemic fatigue and, as the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, vaccine hesitancy. In keeping with this approach, the newly launched UNICEF/WHO HealthBuddy+ app, will enable users to participate in polls and share opinions and experiences in 15 languages spoken in ECAR.
• 27 million children have been supported with distance/home-based learning, an increase of 2 million since last reporting period. The surge in new infections has prompted nearly all governments in ECAR to reduce or temporarily suspend in-classroom learning. During this reporting period, UNICEF-supported interventions continued to focus on bridging the digital divide by making devices and connectivity more available, and by ensuring that digital platforms are complemented with lessons delivered via television and/or through the distribution of printed learning materials.