Tue 24, Mar 2020
As COVID-19 spreads to all parts of our world, ABM joins our partners in prayer.
Papua New Guinea recently announced its first confirmed case. In response, the government announced a 14 day ‘lock down’, beginning 24 March. Schools will be closed. Public transport and domestic flights will stop.
In Vanuatu and the Solomons, no cases of COVID-19 have yet been confirmed. However the threat posed by COVID-19 is enormous because these countries, like PNG, lack a strong healthcare system to deal with any outbreak. ABM’s partners in the western Pacific – the Anglican Church, Anglicare PNG and the Anglican Church of Melanesia – are in discussion with other church agencies and with the government about how churches can assist in awareness-raising around COVID-19.
Myanmar’s healthcare system is similarly vulnerable if an outbreak occurs. However so far there have been no confirmed cases.
In Gaza, the COVID-19 infection rate stands at just 59 people today. ABM’s partner in Gaza is a hospital (Al Ahli) so will play a vital role if the virus spreads.
In the Philippines, there are 380 confirmed cases, including 25 deaths. These are centred in some of the most densely populated parts of Luzon Island, including Manila, so containing the spread will be difficult. Already the Philippines Government has placed the entire island under lock-down, with all mass public transportation suspended and residents told they can only leave their homes for essential items.
Kenya and Zambia have so far escaped lightly, with just 15 and three cases confirmed respectively. Kenya will close its borders to all foreigners on Wednesday 25 March. That will help slow the spread of the virus but will also restrict trade, impacting on jobs and rural producers.
With all ABM’s partners, travel restrictions are expected to tighten as more and more cases appear. That will impact our current programs, which rely on sending trainers and materials to communities. Different needs are likely to become more urgent as health systems try to care for the sick and as economic impacts hit in countries where poverty is already widespread and government social safety nets are weak.
As we all grapple with this new threat, ABM stands in solidarity with our partners and the communities they serve.
We will update you as news comes to hand. Visit this link to read the latest updates from ABM's Partners - https://www.abmission.org/news.php/504/covid-19-update-from-partners