COVID-19 cases continue to be reported in all countries across the region, totalling over 800,000. The confirmed number of new cases has significantly reduced, with only 175,000 new cases reported during the month of August, down from June and July, when the numbers of cases were doubling every month.
South Africa, which has the highest caseload, reported a significant drop in new cases. Daily new cases have decreased to under 3,000 from previous averages of about 13,000. The Government further eased restrictions allowing more sectors of the economy to open in an attempt to ease the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
Although August has seen a reduction of new cases in most countries, the limited testing capacity and contact tracing makes it difficult to ascertain the exact phase of the pandemic.
Ethiopia continues to report an increased number of new infections, and the small island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles, which had gone for prolonged periods without new cases, reported new infections.
In Southern Africa alone, over 45 million people are food insecure with 7 million estimated to be at crisis level due to prolonged drought and social and economic challenges, further exacerbated by the current African migratory locust invasion. With food security as the primary focus, women and girls are less likely to pay attention to preventive measures against COVID-19 and their sexual and reproductive health.
In Uganda and Tanzania, tensions over the upcoming general elections are resulting in less attention to COVID-19 preventive measures and laxity in enforcement by authorities. Violence continues to escalate in Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique and Jonglei State in South Sudan, with humanitarian and COVID-19 responses impacted by limited access to responders.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers remains inadequate across all countries, with slow deliveries due to supply chain constraints. UNFPA continues to work with actors to address these supply chain challenges.
Refugees and migrants continue to be affected by stringent border closures limiting the number of those able to seek asylum. Even those who cross borders cannot seek services freely due to fear of their illegal migration status. Sex workers across many countries face severe disruptions in income and crack-down by authorities in their places of work.
UNFPA is working to ensure the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services and prevention and response to gender-based violence, to protect health workers, and reduce the spread and negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19.