Gaborone – Southern Africa is experiencing a decrease in the number of COVID-19 infections, figures from a United Nations agency show.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, as of March 30, 2021, the region had reported 1,975,877 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across 16 countries.
Including the 75,554 new infections in March, there was a 40 percent decrease in the number of active cases.
However, the report says notable spikes were recorded in Botswana, Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius.
“Restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 have been eased in many countries, with borders reopening and travel restrictions being lifted. However, basic measures such as mask-wearing, limits on social gatherings and curfews remain in place in much of the region,” the report says.
It further states that the UNHCR and its partners have been maintaining protection services and other life-saving assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place at registration and distribution points, and hotlines and community structures support protection case management.
Since the beginning of the response to COVID-19 in March 2020, UNHCR has focused on risk communication an awareness-raising to spread information about COVID-19 prevention and services.
“Health systems strengthening has been a priority, equipping health centres, training health workers, and establishing isolation and quarantine centres. Additional handwashing facilities have been installed and additional soap continues to be distributed,” the report says.
Where schools have been closed, children and youth have been supported with virtual and distance learning, and as schools reopen they have been supported to implement COVID-19 preventive measures.
UNHCR is working closely with governments, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies and NGOs to secure the inclusion of people of concern such as refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and stateless people into COVID-19 preparedness and response measures.
“Importantly, countries in the region including Angola, Malawi, Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe have started rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programmes with stocks acquired through COVAX, as well as contributions from other countries and direct acquisition from manufacturers,” the report says.
No country, adds the report, has expressly excluded people of concern from rollout programmes.