UNICEF EAPRO COVID-19 Situation Report No. 3 14 - 27 March 2020
As of 26 March 2020, 100,640 cases were confirmed positive of COVID-19 in the East Asia and Pacific with 3,601 deaths. This entails 81,961 confirmed cases in China and an additional 18,679 confirmed cases in other East Asia and Pacific countries. Of these the Republic of Korea (9,241cases), Malaysia (1,796 cases), Japan (1,291 cases), Thailand (934 cases) and Indonesia (790 cases) are among the most heavily affected.
Most countries in the East Asia and Pacific region have been taking measures to prepare for or mitigate community contagion of COVID-19. While the outbreak’s burden on health systems is increasing rapidly, necessary mitigation measures are affecting livelihoods and access to public services. Urgent efforts are needed to contain the outbreak and to support health systems and communities to mitigate the impacts.
So far, UNICEF has reached over 80 million people with its COVID-19 related messages and provided critical personal protective equipment supplies to China, Malaysia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Indonesia, DPRK, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. UNICEF plans to reach an additional 210 million people throughout the region.
UNICEF’s Country Offices in the region are also supporting Governments with mitigating secondary impacts on education, child protection and other public services. UNICEF supports governments in the region, among others, with continuity of learning for the 323 million children affected by school closures, preparedness of schools and institutional care facilities as well as trainings of social workers to continue child protection services. Additional resources are needed for this response, including for supplies and programmatic support.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the COVID-19 has already resulted in 3,601 deaths in the East Asia and Pacific region1. Necessary mitigation measures have interrupted public life and slowed down economic activity, affecting the lives and livelihoods of the 2.2 billion people living in the region. While the response by China and other countries in the region has been unprecedented, medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, are in short supply across the East Asia and Pacific region. Countries with weaker health systems and limited capacity to deal with a major disease outbreak are at particular risk, especially now that community transmission and epidemics seem all but unavoidable for most countries in the region. Moreover, public anxiety about transmission risks in healthcare facilities might severely affected healthcare-seeking behaviour, including by pregnant women and families with young children. School closures implemented by countries in the region to contain the spread of the virus have affected 323 million children and may have unintended consequences in terms of child protection, if alternative care arrangements are not in place. The impact of the closure of companies and economic slowdown is mostly felt by those families that were already on unstable and low wages. Moreover, COVID-19 poses a risk to women in particular as women are overrepresented among healthcare workers. A surge in violence against children and gender-based violence (GBV) and a drop in care and support for children and GBV survivors is to be feared. Underlying health conditions make children with disabilities especially vulnerable to COVID-19, compounding their disproportionate social and economic vulnerabilities. UNICEF’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak therefore focusses on the reduction of human-to-human transmission as well as the mitigation of the secondary impacts of the crisis, in line with United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan.