International Alliance for COVID-19 Community Response
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COVID-19 Situation Report #1 Republic of Djibouti - 23 March 2020

Issuing time:2020-04-16 22:06Source:UNITED NATIONS DJIBOUTILink:


• On 18 March, the authorities confirmed Djibouti’s first case of COVID-19. The person did not have contact with the local population. On 23 March, two new confirmed cases, with history of travel, were announced. Contact tracing is ongoing for testing.

• All passenger movement (aircraft/railway/boat), including humanitarian flights are suspended since 18 March. Cargo movements continue. Restrictions nonetheless started hampering commercial traffic that used passenger aircrafts to move commodities.

• On 19 March, the Government announced closure of schools, and on 21 March of mosques, sport events and bars. On 23 March a general lockdown was announced, except for essential services.

• Testing capacity are available in the country. A quarantine site has been established and a care center for severe cases is under finalization. Additional support is required to bring to scale preparedness and response capacity.


On 18 March a member of a foreign contingent was Djibouti’s first diagnosed case of COVID-19. The patient had no contact with the local population and was eventually repatriated the following day. Between 17-23 March, some 46 suspect cases have been quarantined at Bouffard hospital in Djibouti City where they all tested negative for COVID-19 except two. Health authorities are now investigating people who have been in contact with the two positive cases. All travelers who reached Djibouti in the last two weeks are also being actively located for testing.

All passenger traffic, including humanitarian and military flights, has been suspended till further notice. Cargo flights are allowed, but disruption in some services and supply chains, including DHL, have already been noticed. Local transportation has seen a slowdown, and the government, starting 22 March, imposed passenger limitations and hygiene practices to all public transport means. As preventive measure, schools closed on 19 March for two weeks, mosques, sport events and bars on 21 March. The Ministry of Education is working on a radio televised education curriculum in case closure of schools is extended. As of 23 March, the Government announced closure of public and private entities for one week (staff at home with full pay), with the exception of essential services, and called for a general lockdown.

At the global level, the UN Secretary General called for global solidarity and highlighted the need to tackle the health emergency, but also focus on the social impact and the economic response, so to ‘better’ recover, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Social protection measures are imperative to protect the ‘new poor’ generated by the situation. ‘A global recession – perhaps of record dimensions – is a near certainty [and] the ILO has just reported that workers around the world could lose as much as 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars in income by the end of this year’, he said.


The Ministry of Health (MOH) set up a toll-free number (1517) for information and case referrals and is regularly sending SMSs to every local number describing prevention measures. Health authorities (civilian and military) joined hands to strengthen health control at points of arrival (air/sea/land, including via railway) and set up a quarantine centre (hospital Bouffard) and a care centre for severe cases (Arta hospital).

Delivery of protective equipment

The Government has mobilized USD 2.8 million to purchase reagents and diagnostics equipment and COVID-19 Situation Report #1 Republic of Djibouti - 23 March 2020 set up detection and care systems. Additional capacities however are still needed, and support is required to bring to scale preparedness and response capacity, ensure business continuity of basic services, and tackle the inevitable consequences on the economy.

The health authorities are leading the elaboration of a national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 with the support of the UN team, led by WHO. The objectives are to provide coordination; strengthen surveillance, laboratory confirmation and reporting; take preventive and precautionary measures; correctly detect and treat suspect, probable and confirmed cases; limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the event of cases or epidemic clusters at country level, in particular by reducing secondary infections; and communicate the necessary information on the risks of the disease to the community as well as fight against misinformation. Advocacy is ongoing to ensure that the plan is extended to nonhealth sectors which will inevitably be affected.

HEALTH - In early February, WHO has donated USD 25,000 to MoH, and delivered some protective equipment (424 examination gloves; 50 N95 face masks; 100 Surgical masks; 2 x 1L hand sprayers; 10 safety glasses; 20 heavy-duty aprons; among others). IOM provided, on 18 March, 200 body bags and 10 tents. UNICEF is in the process of procuring oxygen concentrators to support treatment efforts. IOM and MOH met to discuss training needs, especially along the migration corridor, and with the Gendarmerie and the Police on ways to strengthen surveillance, with possibility of deploying IOM’s DTM teams as of next week. In coordination with MoH, UNDP organized training on the detection and prevention of COVID-19 for the doctors of the mobile team deployed in El Sheik Farah site (Damerjoog).

LOGISTICS - UNHAS has been mobilized and organized a special flight to bring in country an urgently needed consignment of 500 COVID-19 tests donated by the AU. WFP also managed to speed the delivery of a WHO donation of an additional 500 tests sent via DHL, which eventually arrived in country on 23 March. WFP organized a COVID 19 Humanitarian Logistics Preparedness meeting with organizations present in Djibouti to coordinate response efforts and understand their future needs. The activation of a logistics working group, under government leadership, and the participation of key interlocutors, including the private sector, the port and free zone authorities and key partners it an urgent requirement as much as the opening of a humanitarian corridor to fast track COVID19 supplies.

Delivery of AU donation of test kits

WASH - UNICEF is working with the Municipality of Djibouti Ville to set up additional hand washing points across the city and is continuing to establish hygiene facilities along migrant routes. UNICEF and IOM will look into additional options to ensure migrants’ easy access to health and WASH facilities along the routes in collaboration with regional governments. By 19 March, UNHCR, through its partner Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) established 16 hand washing points, of which 11 at refugee health centers and five in the local community health facilities in Ali Addeh village. UNDP organized awareness-raising activities for over 600 families living on the El Sheik Farah site near Damerjoog and provided hygiene materials and, in partnership with local NGOS carried out outreach and provided basic hygiene supplies in Dikhil, Tadjourah, Randa, Arta, Obock, and Djibouti City. The #SafeHands challenge was launched on social networks with the participation of the President of the Republic of Djibouti, Ministers of Foreign Affairs & Economy and Finance; President of the Parliament, several Ambassadors, the UN Resident Coordinator, WHO Representative, and members of the civil society.

ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE CRISIS – The tourism sector has been the first to be impacted by the crisis in Djibouti. ECA is undertaking modeling of economic impact in the continent, the region and some countries, including Djibouti. ILO has engaged with the authorities and shared global guidance on workforce management. Under the RC leadership, partners will strengthen collaboration with the Government to look at these concerning dynamics and provide relevant advice for policy decision making.

EDUCATION - UNICEF is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to support on-learn learning and to ensure continuity of certification exams which are planned for May. UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry to develop a WASH in schools’ strategy to be implemented when classes resume.

COMMUNICATION - Since 17 March MOH is holding a daily press conference on COVID-19. On 20 March, together with MOH, WHO representative participated in a televised roundtable discussion to raise public awareness on COVID19. WHO, IOM and RCO participated in a briefing session with local media (television, radio, print and online). WHO, UNICEF and UNDP shared Q&A, graphics and key messages with all partners. WHO and the Ministry of Health created a TV spot on COVID19 which is being broadcast on television. Numerous billboards illustrating prevention measures were placed in 11 strategic locations in the capital. The UN communication group is supporting the MoH-led communication committee which have been providing technical support in risk communication, community engagement and strengthening infection prevention control. Posters on handwashing and symptom reporting and prevention measures have been created and validated. Their distribution is ongoing. IOM is supporting with translation in Amharic and Oromo languages to ensure outreach to migrants who continue to transit to Djibouti (400-600/day on average). UNICEF is leading a rapid assessment of the level of awareness on COVID19, which results will be available shortly.

TV Awareness rasing roundtable

SUPPORT TO VULNERABLE GROUPS – The national refugee agency, ONARS, met with WFP, IOM and UNHCR to look at ways to ensure continuation of distributions and support to refugees whilst maintaining social distancing and other preventive measures. On 23 March, IOM deployed 60 community mobilizers in Obock town to sensitize migrants, refugees and host communities about the danger of COVID19.

UN PREPAREDNESS - UN entities revised their business continuity plans, which are being tested. Staff is being kept informed through virtual townhalls. Guidelines for staff on case reporting/referral have been shared. An emergency number for UN staff has been put in place to ensure immediate health support as required. Information, awareness and prevention meeting and hand washing simulation have been initiated at agency level by several Heads of agencies. Hand sanitizers and masks have been distributed to staff. IOM has set up a separate water fountains at the entrance of the office for the beneficiary and the staff.

For further information, please contact: Idyl MOUSSA IYE | UN Resident Coordinator’s Office | Dalia LOURENCO LEVIN | World Health Organization Djibouti |