The exponential rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Somalia continues. From 26 April to 3 May, confirmed cases rose from 390 to 722, with 32 deaths and 44 recoveries. The new cases are largely due to community transmission. On 23 April, WHO warned that if the virus transmission is not slowed down rapidly, the patient surge and increasing demand for health care will overwhelm the country’s fragile health system. Somalia will need to make difficult decisions to balance the overwhelming demands of responding to COVID-19, while maintaining essential health service delivery to prevent health systems from collapse.
The measures announced by authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19 have had a significant impact on livelihoods. In March, Somalia saw slight price increases of imported food items due to the partial disruption of the supply chain and panic buying due to the pandemic. On 19 April, Saudi Arabia announced plans to temporarily lift the ban on importing livestock as well as import at least 600,000 sheep and 100,000 camels from Somalia in the next 30 days; a move that offers some economic respite. The measures taken by individual agencies have also impacted on humanitarian activities and development programmes. An OCHA survey of NGO partners in South West State found that 36 per cent reported they were unable to conduct field activities, 40 per cent had reduced field presence to focus on immediate lifesaving activities and 66 per cent were adapting primary activities to COVID-19 directives.
With the addition of COVID-19, Somalia faces increased threats with looming floods and an ongoing, historic desert locust infestation in various parts of the country. According to African Development, the pandemic will affect ongoing efforts to contain the locusts, particularly given limitations on movements of people and flights, and disruptions in supply chains.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).