The West and Central Africa region has seen a 22% percent increase in new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last week going from 49,937 contaminations on 02 June to a total of 60,678 on 09 June 2020.
Although countries in the region have started to relax restriction on movement to allow for socio-economic activities to restart, strict preventive measures are still being implemented.
UNHCR Operations are pursuing their efforts to ensure continuity of assistance and basic protection services despite movement restrictions through remote assistance.
• Continuous increase of confirmed cases. Since the first case of COVID-19 was declared in Nigeria on 28 February 2020, the pandemic has progressed steadily throughout West and Central Africa where it has killed 1,187 people. As of 09 June 2020, WHO statistics show 60,678 confirmed cases in the 21 countries covered by the Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa with 32,593 still active and 26,898 recoveries. To date, Nigeria (13,464) remains with the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by Ghana (10,201), Cameroon (8,681) and Guinea (4,258). In terms of active cases, Nigeria (8,893) has the highest number, followed by Ghana (6,398), Cameroon (3,633) and Gabon (2,288).
• Confirmed cases among PoCs. So far, eight persons of concern including four refugees in Cameroon, one refugee in Ghana and three IDPs in Mali have been tested positive. Of the four refugees in Cameroon, one recovered in Yaounde, two passed away in Douala and Bertoua and one case is still active and is treated in the public health system and assisted by UNHCR in Bertoua where 21 refugees have also been placed in quarantine preventively. In Ghana, the urban-refugee who tested positive is being treated according to the national health protocols and UNHCR is following up on him and his family members. As for the three IDPs in Mopti in Mali, they are being treated in the Malian health and assisted by UNHCR.
• Preventive measure in the region. Although countries in the region have started to relax restriction on movement to allow for socio-economic activities to restart, strict preventive measures are still being implemented. In Chad, the ban on entry and exit from N’djamena was extended until 15 June at the exception of goods and foodstuff, wearing a mask is now compulsory, the national “State of Health Emergency” was extended until 15 July 2020. In Senegal, the return to class and the gradual resumption of domestic flights were postponed to 15 Jun. The reopening of bus stations, the resumption of interurban transport, the opening of restaurants and sports halls and the authorization of private meetings was confirmed subject to the compulsory wearing of a mask and respecting physical distance.
• Specific protection risks and challenges for forcibly displaced populations. Refugees and IDPs are often residing in overcrowded and precarious conditions rendering impossible social distancing or basic preventive measures such as hand washing which exposes them to heightened risks of contamination as COVID-19 cases. Although only three cases of infection were reported among UNHCR’s persons of concern in Cameroon in Nigeria so far, forcibly displaced populations are also at heightened risk of stigmatization in situations of pandemic. In addition to these specific challenges, forcible displaced populations are also facing the risk of food insecurity in the region, particularly in the Sahel. There are also great concerns regarding gender- based violence which is on the rise since the beginning of the COVID crisis as a direct result of the preventive measures enforced and the economic strain these restrictions have put on many households. The significant disruption in the livelihoods of many forcibly displaced population is also increasing the risk of resorting to negative coping mechanisms, including child labour which UNHCR is monitoring closely.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees