Evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in ACP countries news – Post date: May 25th, 2020.

The authorities announced new measures on 18 May: free distribution of masks, tests are envisaged and five mobile laboratories will be deployed. The population is reminded to rigorously apply barrier gestures to avoid any spread of the virus (RFI, 18 May).

The authorities lifted the containment measures on 18 May. Shops (except restaurants) and transport have resumed their activities while observing the barrier measures (RFI, 18 May).

The European Union has announced €100 million in support of the economic response plan to the coronavirus crisis in partnership with the European Investment Bank (RFI, 18 May).

From mid-March, the first measures to prevent the spread of the virus have involved a ban on all flights from at-risk countries and transit countries, only aircraft and cargo ships and other means of transporting freight are allowed and their personnel are subject to controls. Gatherings of more than 20 people in public places are also banned, and schools, universities, and official and private higher institutes throughout the country are closed for four weeks. On 24 March, a state of emergency was announced banning all travel from Kinshasa to the provinces and from the provinces to Kinshasa, except for cargo planes. All the country’s borders are closed. Isolating Kinshasa proved difficult and cases of contamination will be isolated in dedicated centres. Despite the travel ban, at least 3,000 people travel between Kinshasa and Kongo Central province every day. On 18 May, the authorities launched a National Solidarity Fund against COVID-19. The National Social Security Fund has released $1 million and other institutions in the country can contribute to it (RFI, 16 May19 May).

In April, the National Bureau of Statistics reported an increase in annual consumer price inflation (+10.6%) due to increased in food prices in the areas affected by containment measures. Food products and non-alcoholic beverages (+14.4%) are the cause of this rise. The statistics agency notes a 37% increase in the price of vegetables, and 20.5% for fruit and nuts. The average inflation rate in the areas that suffered closures in April (Acrra, Kumasi) was almost 9% higher than in the other regions. In 2020, the expected economic growth rate is 1.5%, the lowest in four decades (Commodafrica, 14 May).

On 15 May, the authorities announced the renewal of the state of emergency for a period of one month, the modification of the curfew hours (10 pm to 5 am) for the Greater Conakry area (Conakry, Coyah and Dubréka), and the lifting of the curfew for the interior of the country. The number of persons authorised to gather in the interior of the country was relaxed (20 to 30 people maximum). Support measures will be provided to the agricultural sector in view of the significant losses suffered, particularly in the cashew, pineapple and potato sectors (Guinéenews, 17 May).

As early as mid-March, the authorities took containment measures. On 16 and 17 May, they decided to close the borders with Somalia and Tanzania (RFI, 17 May).

On 17 May, the authorities announced that measures (afternoon confinement, movement between restricted areas, gatherings of more than 50 people prohibited) would be maintained in the three regions of the country affected by the virus: the capital Antananarivo ; Fianarantsoa in the centre ; and in the east Tamatave and the neighbouring Alaotra Mangoro region from 18 May onwards (RFI, 17 May).

To cope with the consequences of the pandemic, the World Bank International Development Association has granted a credit of $150 million to strengthen agriculture and food security. These funds are aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and should boost exports of high value-added crops (e.g. shelled peanuts) and horticultural products, as well as dairy farming. The Agriculture and Livestock Competitiveness Programme will support investment (e.g. facilitating access to finance and insurance) by small-scale producers and pastoralists in more productive and resilient crop and livestock value chains. The government will also be able to put in place more efficient price, quota and subsidy policies (Commodafrica, 14 May).

As the population has been confined since 27 March, the government has launched a strategy of massive testing, which involved 460,873 people, but the results are now taking up to two weeks to arrive compared to three days previously (RFI, 17 May).

Since the beginning of May, the country has seen an increase in the number of people infected with the virus. At the same time, restrictions have been eased: shops have reopened, the curfew has been shortened, and motorcycle taxis can once again carry customers. On 12 May, six weeks after the closure of the airports, national and international flights were allowed (RFI, 18 May).

No containment measures have been taken by the authorities, apart from the closure of schools. Dozens of Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive at the Kenyan border last week (RFI, 17 May).

As soon as the first steps were taken to combat COVID-19, the volumes of agricultural products on the markets decreased. Producers were no longer able to sell the volumes ordered because sales outlets were no longer allowed to open and buyers were deserting wholesale markets. As early as 30 March, the authorities announced closure of the country’s markets in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. Producers no longer had outlets for their fresh produce, they faced a shortage of labour and a drop in their income. The authorities gradually relaxed the ban, allowing wholesale markets and the transport of all food products across the country to function. Despite this, the food supply chain has not returned to normal functioning (transport and workers in limited fields, few traders have opened their stores). If these difficulties persist, especially at the height of the harvest season, the economic consequences will be more significant for small farmers: as the immediate sale of their products cannot take place, they will not be able to repay their loans and finance their next harvests (Fresh Plaza, 18 May).

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