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Regional Bureau for Europe: COVID-19 Emergency Response, Update # 31 (1 – 31 August 2021)

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Regional COVID-19 infection rates rose moderately throughout August. Movement and travel restrictions were generally maintained, and in some cases tightened.
COVID-19 travel restrictions are broadly protection-sensitive and in general include exceptions enabling access to territory by persons seeking international protection.
Movement restrictions continue to impact UNHCR staff in country offices. To date, 34 offices are partially teleworking, one is fully teleworking, and one had shifted out of telework mode.

Operational Context

  • All 49 countries and one territory in the region have reported COVID-19 cases among the general population. To date, 40 countries and one territory have reported COVID-19 cases among persons of concern at some point. Some of the concerned individuals have in the meantime recovered. However, any figures or estimates should be taken with caution due to varying approaches to testing, data segregation and reporting.

  • According to the WHO, regional COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations rose moderately throughout August, mainly due to the spread of the Delta variant. While some countries continued cautiously relaxing restrictions at the beginning of the month, other countries introduced requirements related to the extended use of COVID-19 certificates attesting vaccination or negative test results for specific social gatherings. At least a dozen countries had or were in the process of tightening measures at the end of August in response to the trends in infections.

  • At the end of August, one UNHCR office remained in full telework mode, 34 in partial telework mode, and one had shifted out of telework mode altogether. Visits to reception centres are strictly regulated, and outbreaks in collective accommodation or detention centres continue to temporarily limit the ability of UNHCR and partners to access persons of concern in some countries.