A year has passed since the first COVID-19 case was declared on 14 March 2020. Since, 5,402 people have tested positive and 73 passed away due to the virus.
In Bossangoa, thousands of displaced people return home in uncertainty
In January and February, more than 16,000 internally displaced people in Bangassou received multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance.
Clashes in Bambari in mid-February temporarily displaced thousands, left 36 people injured and dozens of shelters burned.
To meet the most urgent needs in 2021, humanitarian partners plan to assist 1.84 million people, for what they will require US$ 444.7 million.
COVID-19: One year on
A year has passed since the Minister of Health of the Central African Republic announced the first case of COVID-19 on 14 March 2020. Measures to contain the spread and to protect the population were taken immediately, with the support of the humanitarian community. By the end of March, schools were closed countrywide, group gatherings were banned, international flights were halted and movements between Bangui and the regions restricted, with the exception of those related to humanitarian assistance. Two months after the first positive case was detected, the first death related to COVID-19 was recorded.
One year on, 5,170* people have tested positive and 68 passed away due to the virus, according to the Ministry of Health, and the country looks back at a year during which humanitarian needs soared. Never in the past five years have there been so many people in acute need as today. The pandemic hit a country already ravaged by decades of armed conflict and underdevelopment.
Challenges on all fronts
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Central African Republic was among the least prepared countries to face the pandemic. A series of aggravating factors render the country both vulnerable and the response to the pandemic difficult.
Fragile health system and poor access to water
First, the health system is barely functioning, due to a chronic shortage of skilled health workers, medical equipment and basic medicines. Seventy per cent of health services are provided by humanitarian organizations and over 2.5 million people, half of the population, need health assistance. One in four Central Africans needs to walk for over an hour to reach the nearest clinic and for many, the bills for consultations and medications are unaffordable.
When it comes to one of the most basic measures to avoid contracting COVID-19 – regular hand-washing with soap and water – the situation does not look brighter. Only one in three Central Africans has access to clean water, a toilet and shower. And for many, soap is a luxury good. Access to water and sanitation is particularly problematic at the many sites where 235,000 internally displaced people (IDP) live, according to the Commission on Population Movement (28 February 2021) often in crowded makeshift shelters where physical distancing is not practicable.