The high COVID-19 caseload in Somalia is straining the country’s fragile health care system. Partners report that the number of people visiting health centres for routine care has significantly dropped due to fear of contracting the virus as well as lack of public transport or other means to access facilities. Furthermore, 133 health workers have been infected across the country, affecting service delivery at various health care facilities. The virus, WHO has warned, could overshadow and potentially reverse recent health gains in the country.
Banadir region accounts for the highest numbers: 1,402 out of 2,779 cases reported as of 22 June while Hirshabelle State has the lowest numbers, 23 cases and one death. In recent days, the number of reported cases has shown a decreasing trend as compared to the previous weeks except in Somaliland. A downward trend in COVID-19-related mortality has also been observed. However, despite signs that the virus spread may be slowing down in Mogadishu City and major urban centres, cases have continued to grow at the regional level as transmission spreads.
To mitigate community transmission, authorities issued directives aimed at stemming the advance of the virus.
Between 5 and 14 June, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Galmudug and Puntland states announced three new directives; bringing to 60 the total number of directives issued by authorities in Somalia to control the spread of COVID19 since 16 March. The new directives include the extension of the suspension of domestic flights by the Somali Civil Aviation Authority until 30 June and the directive by the Puntland COVID-19 Prevention Committee to reinstate preventive and social distancing measures following a relaxation on 18 May due to the Eid festival. The Galmudug State Ministry of Education also gave a directive to open primary schools for grade eight students from 15 June and the commencement of examinations on 11 July, providing guidance on spacing of sitting arrangements, handwashing protocols, the role of the COVID-19 committee and other related measures.
As of 14 June, 57 directives are in place while three have been rescinded. Of these, 33 relate to social distancing, closure of academic institutions and restriction of population movement; six impose suspensions on international, domestic passenger flights and restrict land transportation; nine relate to border closure; six impose night curfews; one directs tax exemption on basic food items; two relate to education and two relate to registration of burial activities and deceased persons. The spread and impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated existing socio-economic vulnerabilities at a time that Somalia is grappling with floods and desert locusts, creating a triple threat.