Impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of veterinary services and animal disease reporting: (May–June 2020/June–August 2020)

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COVID-19 was first identified in humans in December 2019 and has since affected almost 68 million people causing over 1.5 million deaths worldwide. The control measures implemented to manage the pandemic, such as lockdowns and movement restrictions, have had an impact on all sectors, including animal health. The aim of the first survey presented below was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of state (and private) veterinary services. The objective of the second survey was to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected the routine activities of animal disease reporting and surveillance for early detection in the countries using EMA-i (Event Mobile Application).

Both surveys’ participants reported that movement restriction due to COVID-19 was implemented in their respective countries which resulted in a negative impact on the activities of the veterinary services. In the first survey, 93 percent reported their veterinary services had been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and 70 percent reported it was more difficult for field agents to conduct surveillance activities and field investigations. This result was similar to the second survey, where 74 percent of participants confirmed that movement restriction due to COVID-19 had affected their work on disease reporting and, 69 percent declared that they had been granted special authorization of free movement to perform their duties.

In summary, both surveys highlighted the direct impacts on account of movement restrictions, and a fear of becoming infected with the virus, and indirect impacts which resulted from resources being directed away from animal health surveillance activities to COVID-19-related activities.