MOGADISHU — The number of people visiting health centers for routine care in Somalia has significantly dropped due to fear of contracting COVID-19 as well as lack of public transport or other means to access facilities, the UN said on Tuesday.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which cited its partners said the high COVID-19 caseload in Somalia is straining the country's fragile health care system.
"The virus, WHO has warned, could overshadow and potentially reverse recent health gains in the country," OCHA said in its latest report on COVID-19.
It said a total of 133 health workers have been infected across the country, affecting service delivery at various health care facilities.
The Horn of Africa nation has so far confirmed 2,812 COVID-19 cases, 818 recoveries and 90 deaths as of Monday amid concern the cases are mostly local transmissions.
According to the UN, Banadir region accounts for the highest numbers - 1,402 while Hirshabelle State has the lowest numbers, 23 cases and one death.
OCHA said the number of reported cases has shown a decreasing trend in recent days as compared to the previous weeks except in Somaliland. It said a downward trend in COVID-19-related mortality has also been observed.
"However, despite signs that the virus spread may be slowing down in Mogadishu city and major urban centers, cases have continued to grow at the regional level as transmission spreads," said the UN agency.
According to the UN, the authorities have issued directives aimed at stemming the advance of the virus, including extension of the suspension of domestic flights by the Somali Civil Aviation Authority until June 30.
"The spread and impact of COVID-19 have exacerbated existing socio-economic vulnerabilities at a time that Somalia is grappling with floods and desert locusts, creating a triple threat," said OCHA.
UN agencies and partners said they have scaled up their responses despite operational challenges due to coronavirus containment measures such as most staff working remotely, in restricted environments, or from home.