Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) reported a significant increase in daily cases of COVID-19 during December, with the Omicron variant believed to be driving a new wave of infections. Health authorities in Tunisia reported the highest number of new infections since September 2021, however no PoCs reported testing positive in December. Algeria saw its daily infection rate double during the month, from 192 on 1 December to 395 at the end of the month; in the Sahrawi refugee camps, cases also doubled from 28 to 48 throughout December. Israel, Libya, Turkey, and the UAE also observed a significant rise in cases.
UNHCR continued supporting local COVID-19 health responses and sensitization activities. Vaccination campaigns were further reinforced by national health authorities, as booster shots were introduced by some to mitigate the spread of the virus. The demand for vaccines among PoCs rose considerably during the month, notably in Lebanon where a 59% increase in registrations and 102% increase in vaccinations was observed compared to November. Mauritania meanwhile remains among the countries in Africa with the highest rate of vaccination, with Mbera refugee camp reporting a comparatively high vaccination rate of 37% of the camp’s total 67,500 population. With national COVID-19 ‘Green Passes’ continuing to be rolled out for those fully vaccinated to access to public venues, UNHCR worked to ensure PoCs were included and could access national platforms and register using their ID and documentation.