COVID-19 Response - Situation Report 15 (9 - 15 May 2020)
May 15 2020
Since it was initially reported on 31 December 2019, the illness known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly across the globe, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. As of 15 May, over 4.2 million confirmed cases and over 294,000 deaths have been reported globally since the outbreak began. Confirmed cases have been reported in more than 200 countries/territories/ areas, with new cases and countries reporting daily. Global efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have led to containment policies – e.g. border closures and lockdown measures -- that have severely impacted mobility in complex and diverse ways. Movement restrictions, which totalled 61,769 as of 14 May, are directly shaping the lives of people all over the world. While some governments and authorities have begun efforts to ease blanket travel restrictions and develop targeted reopening plans, as evidenced by the introduction of new exceptions to enable mobility for certain nationalities or groups, stringent medical measures and requirements before, upon or after entry remain in place. However, as national and local authorities continue to adjust their border policies based on local needs, many find themselves faced with a new set of challenges and vulnerabilities, increasing their need for humanitarian support. A key consequence of these mobility restrictions worldwide has been the stranding abroad of people formerly on the move. To assist these stranded travellers and migrants governments and national authorities have increased their capacity to provide consular assistance to their nationals stranded abroad. In other instances, migrants have sought to return through operations facilitated by IOM or spontaneously, through official border points or otherwise. However, in many regions, stigma and discrimination towards migrants at destination, transit and return locations due to fears around COVID-19 transmission have been reported, which can lead to further exclusion from or unwillingness to access health services and risk further exacerbation of the hardships created by the pandemic. In migrant camps, camp-like settings, reception centres and dormitories, there are increasing reports of confirmed cases and a heightened risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 due to overcrowding, inadequate sanitation, poor nutrition, and limited access to health care facilities. These conditions greatly contribute to the risk of an infectious disease outbreak in locations that currently have no known cases and/or to increasing the risk of transmission if the disease is already present. To address these and other challenges, IOM missions around the world are working with governments and partners to ensure that migrants, whether in regular or irregular situations, as well as returnees and forcibly displaced persons, are included in all aspects of COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts.