COVID-19 Response - Situation Report 10 (17-21 April 2020)
Apr 21 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 21 April, more than 2.3 million confirmed cases and over 160,000 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. While many borders and airports continue to remain closed for common use, the varying impacts of COVID-19 across the affected countries, territories and areas continues to generate a diversity of responses. Even with global mobility and migration dynamics on pause, the total number of COVID-19 related mobility restrictions reached 48,588 on 20 April 2020, marking a slight increase of nearly one per cent from the 48,359 recorded on 17 April, as well as a similar one per cent increase on restrictions on the arrival of passengers from specific countries, territories or areas. In such a context, Governments and authorities have started demonstrating a preference for mixed measures, cautiously loosening some essential mobility restrictions yet curbing overall internal mobility. At the same time, a variety of factors related to COVID-19, including border closures, high prevalence of the disease in certain countries, and conflict de-escalation measures (in order to allow for COVID-19 prevention and response), have caused sizable returns in many regions of the world. For example, high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Iran (Islamic Republic of) have pushed more than 177,000 Afghans to return to Afghanistan since the beginning of March. While in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, following the announcement of lockdown measures in Thailand, over 193,000 cross-border migrants from neighbouring countries returned to their home provinces or countries, including Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar. In Syria, IOM partners have reported that over 106,000 people displaced by military operations in the northwest have now returned to their place of origin, while over 20,000 have returned to their former place of displacement; 55 per cent of returnees were motivated by an improvement in the security situation, whereas almost half of internally displaced persons (IDPs) (48%) who arrived in their former place of displacement were pushed by concerns related to COVID-19. These types of movements are concerning for a variety of reasons, but key among them is the fact that many of the receiving locations have even less capacity to provide testing, isolation and treatment, and thus may in fact drive transmission even further.