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COVID-19 outbreak: Operational update #12, reporting date - Emergency appeal n° MDR00005 (24 April 2020)

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The Revised Emergency Appeal (26 March 2020) is available here.

The Emergency Plans of Actions for COVID-19 operation are available here.

Red Cross and Red Crescent activities globally

Health and Care
The IFRC COVID-19 Health Help Desk for National Societies was launched to facilitate collaboration and share the best available clinical and public health advice and guidance. It offers information and guidance to support public health and clinical activities in COVID-19 preparedness and response, along with support to adapt, continue and scale up existing health programs to meet communities’ health needs throughout the pandemic. It includes self-support via interactive and continuously updated FAQ, remote technical guidance, comprehensive toolkit of multilingual guidance resources, and learning webinars. Guidance on the rational use of PPE has been updated, and now includes sections on quarantine facility workers and burials.

Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE)
Coordination: IFRC, UNICEF, and WHO with GOARN support are strengthening the coordination structure to enable greater collaboration among key stakeholders at the global and regional levels. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted into a humanitarian crisis, there is increasing coordination with IASC Results Group 2 on Accountability and Inclusion and its humanitarian partners to join and align efforts in regards to country operations, solutions and tools for stronger community engagement and accountability approaches on the ground. Strengthened coordination of partners with a focus on needs of migrants and vulnerable populations, community engagement in remote populations and addressing reports of stigma and xenophobia.

The IFRC guidance note on Safe Social Mobilization has been finalized in coordination with IFRC Africa Regional Office. The guidance note provides recommendations to how carry out community activities safely, how to advocate for continued access to communities with Governments in the face of movement restrictions and options for remote risk communication and community engagement, when face to face access is no longer an option. RCCE work continues to guide Red Cross Red Crescent membership on how to implement risk communication and community engagement and accountability during mitigation phase and its movement restrictions measures. Coordination with IFRC regional offices this week focused on sharing existing tools and guides to plan community engagement approaches during Ramadan, the safe use of masks and homecare specially in low-resource settings.

The RCCE Rapid Training that IFRC developed is being used by several NSs and generating interest to be adapted by some external partners such as Save The Children. RCCE team continues to provide a leading voice in several interagency coordination tables including READY initiative, CORE group or UNICEF and new risk communication short videos are being produced.

Livelihoods related resources and infographics (translations ongoing) were developed in collaboration with the Spanish Red Cross hosted Livelihoods Resource Centre and British Red Cross hosted Cash Hub and remote helpdesks approach further developing with both. The Cash Hub has opened a dedicated page for Covid-19.

National Society Preparedness
Overall coordination with ICRC continues on a weekly basis to identify areas of collaboration at global, regional and national levels. As does collaboration with the Preparedness for Effective Response (PER) Core Working Group, the broader Technical Working Group and collaboration with the CP3 team. Key initiatives underway in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross are:

  • Mapping of all PER ‘Mechanism’ (i.e. emergency response system component) guidance and tools that exist. This will allow for development of a user-friendly library of existing resources for NS and partners to refer to when investing in areas of capacity building of their response systems. This will complement the many newly developed COVID-19 specific guidance and ensure we support an all-hazards approach.
  • PER ‘Mechanism’ videos focused on what areas make up a response system, key questions to ask regarding the effectiveness status of a NS response system, and direction to basic guidance to enhance key areas are being created. The videos include epidemic considerations to ensure NS readiness to the current pandemic. This initiative will result in six mini videos of 5-10 minutes each, which will be accessible to NS and partners as awareness raising of the various interrelated components of a response system that a National Society needs in place to deliver ongoing services to those in need; and will serve as a quick primer of what minimum benchmarks they should aspire to have in place.
  • Transfer of PER face-to-face training to an online modality is underway to ensure NS and partners are able to understand the various aspects of the PER approach. This will serve as a refresher for NS who are already engaged in working on their response systems using PER. It will also allow surge and rapid responders to access training to have a basic understanding of the process that National Societies have undertaken, and how this work should be built on through operations. The training will also highlight the various ways to engage in PER, including through operational, post-operational, simulations and self-assessments.
  • Work is ongoing with the DREF team on identifying trends in National Society response system strengths and weaknesses across recent operations. This will be used to inform strategic development of guidance/tools to address common bottlenecks and challenges.

Building on the support provided to regional plans on drafting integrated comprehensive support to NS Strengthening, a five-step simplified process document was drafted to clarify how planning processes can be sequenced. This is to ensure that BCP, CP and preparedness and response plan efforts are not done in isolation. The intention is to streamline and connect these processes wherever possible to ensure efficiency and minimal strain on NS.

The “Business Continuity Help Desk”, operated jointly by the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre and the IFRC, has begun providing support to National Societies. Identification of Regional BCP focal points is underway and outreach is ongoing in Africa. Engagement with the LAC El Salvador Reference Center is ongoing and outreach and support to NS for revision of BCP plans is being provided. The LAC Reference Centre is collecting examples of BCP plans.

In addition, the RCRC Climate Center will be providing support to reviewing BCP for considerations of secondary impacts from other hazards. Conversations are continuing on linkages between the BCP helpdesk and the health helpdesk and Cash and Livelihoods Helpdesks. BCP guidance continues to be refined with development of: short video tutorials (3-5min) highlighting core components of BCP, and a NS BCP template pulling main components from IFRC BCP guidelines is underway. Engagement in SOKONI forum is also planned and preparations underway.

The Sokoni Volunteer Platform is an exchange platform for volunteers which has been launched on 17.04, and includes discussion forums; a question button; the ability to input questions in different languages (immediate translation); links to the repository of existing validated IFRC documents (on other platforms like GO, Fednet) and a space to share NS-developed approaches and products.

Contingency planning guidance development continues with collection of best practices and alignment of existing resources to determine gaps. This will inform what critical guidance is needed to support National Societies to effectively plan for COVID-19 contingencies, and complex pandemic scenarios which will require responding to seasonal and nonseasonal emergencies that will continue to occur.