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UNHCR Ethiopia COVID-19 and Operational Update 25 November 2020

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COVID-19 Operational Context

As of 22 November 2020, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) reported 105,789 coronavirus (COVID19) cases and 1,647 fatalities in the country, showing an increase of 7.5% and a 9.2% respectively, compared to the previous report on 6 November. Close to 1.6 million samples were collected and tested throughout the country to date.

Following the Government’s announcement and guidelines for a phased reopening of schools, schools in the capital Addis Ababa and in some regions are gradually opening their doors to students, starting with grade 8 and 12 students, who need to sit for the national examinations.

COVID-19 Prevention and Response

The Government’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR, together with the Regional Health Bureaus and other health partners continue to reinforce their response to COVID-19 in both refugee camps and other locations sheltering refugees and asylum seekers. They have enhanced communication and hygiene and are continuously working to reduce overcrowding, to curb the spread of the virus. Supplies of water and soap continue to be reinforced, together with the installation of handwashing stations, as well as ongoing strengthening of health services, equipping isolation and quarantine centers, and the provision of personal protective equipment for health care workers, first responders and others.

  • PPEs, COVID-related medicines and medical equipment worth approximately 1 million $USD are being delivered for health services and health staff while a fresh procurement order for medicines and medical equipment for both COVID and regular health programmes has just been placed by UNHCR.

  • 38,830 handwashing stations have been installed in communal centres and households in all the 26 refugee camps, to promote regular handwashing with soap. Of these, 37,557 have been installed in refugee households and 1,273 were set up in communal facilities, providing services to refugees and asylum seekers. More capacity is needed to ensure that every refugee household has a handwashing facility.

  • Over 2,509 trained health and community outreach workers are actively engaged in awareness raising, case investigation and management, as well as mitigation, prevention and control of the virus. They include 446 healthcare workers, 22 laboratory technicians and 1,719 community outreach workers who are serving both the refugees and the communities hosting them. In addition, refugee representatives, Refugee Outreach Volunteers (ROVs), women, youth and child committees and other community representatives were trained and are actively engaged to ensure that basic preventive measures are observed in the communities.

  • The daily average per capita water distribution in the refugee camps stands at 18.6 liters, with five refugee camps out of 26 receiving less than 15 liters per person per day, below the UNHCR minimum standard of 20 litres per person per day. UNHCR, ARRA and partners are working to ensure that all refugees have access to adequate potable water in keeping with the minimum international standards.

  • Isolation facilities, known as Temporary Assessment Units, have been set up in all refugee camps to temporarily quarantine possible suspected COVID-19 cases pending their transfer to Government isolation and treatment facilities, if necessary. UNHCR provided hospital beds, mattresses, coverall gowns and other supplies to equip the facilities and extended support to the Government-run treatment centers which are accessible to refugees.

  • In the capital, Addis Ababa, where over 33,000 urban refugees reside, UNHCR is communicating with refugees via telephone helplines, WhatsApp and Telegram groups. Refugee Outreach Volunteers (ROVs) and refugee leaders are also helping raise awareness. In order to meet additional expenses for soap and other sanitary materials, UNHCR provides an additional allowance of 300 Ethiopian Birr (US$ 7.86) per person per month, to those refugees entitled to monthly living allowances.

  • UNHCR is supporting the inter-agency COVID-19 response to the IDP situation in the country, distributing non-food items, equipping isolation and quarantine centers and providing community communications on health messaging.