Information last updated: May 19, 2020
Nation-wide curfew has been lifted, effective May 15 (previously and since March 23, nation-wide curfew in effect from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m). Schools and universities have begun to reopen, as well as restaurants and maquis. Gatherings of up to 200 are also permitted.
Response set up and capacity
At the national level, the operational coordination of the response to the epidemic is ensured by the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (COUSP) of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene. This coordination involves several technical ministries. The COUSP’s mission is to monitor the dynamics of the epidemic’s progression and to guide control strategies. Security measures are mainly announced by the President of the Republic and the National Security Council.
At the decentralized level, the departmental epidemic control committees are chaired by the prefects. These committees organize regular meetings to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the response. The country has more than 2,500 health centers throughout the country. These include University Hospital Centers (CHU), Regional Hospital Centers (CHR), General Hospitals (HG), maternity wards, infirmaries, etc. For laboratory examinations, the reference structure is the Institut Pasteur de Côte d’Ivoire (IPCI).
The public health system in Côte d’Ivoire is characterized by 0.233 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants (2014 World Bank), 0.4 beds per 1,000 inhabitants (2006 World Bank last update), by one doctor for 5,303 inhabitants, one nurse for 1,932 inhabitants and one midwife for 995 women of childbearing age.
According to the World Bank, “given its fragile Public Health systems and close ties to China and European countries especially France and Italy, Cote d’Ivoire is vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus, highlighting the country’s centrality to global health security”.
The WHO’s Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Status (30 April 2020) classifies Côte d’Ivoire in Level 3 in terms of preparedness capacity (out of 5, 5 being the highest level of preparedness).
Entities / Organizations
• Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene
• Ministry of Economy and Finance
• Ministry of Security and Civil Protection
• Ministry of Solidarity, Social Cohesion and the Fight against Poverty
• National Security council
• World Bank
• United Nations coordination
(i.e, Unicef, UNFPA, CARE)
• International NGOs
(i.e, Médecin sans Frontières)
• Telephone companies
(i.e, Orange, MTN and Moov)
• Local NGOs and foundations
(i.e, Didier Drogba Foundation)
Mitigating factors - What is being done?
- March 16: The National Security Council, chaired by the President of the Republic, announces several measures, including a state of health emergency in the whole the country, the closures of schools and non-essential businesses, air, land and sea borders, theaters and nightclubs. Suspicious cases and patient contacts are required to go into quarantine in centers requisitioned by the State. Total free diagnosis and management of all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and reactivation of departmental epidemic control committees.
- March 23: Presidential address announcing additional measures including the closure of restaurants, nation-wide curfew from 9p.m to 5a.m from March 24, 2020. In addition to this, a travel ban is put in place between Abidjan and the rest of the country. A 95,880 million CFA francs national response plan is announced to strengthen the operational mechanisms for prevention and management of the epidemic.
- March 31: the Prime Minister announces an Economic, Social and Humanitarian Support Plan estimated at CFAF 1700 billion, or about 5% of GDP which has three axes:
- Business support measures:
- Postponement for three months of the payment of taxes, duties, and similar payments due to the State as well as social security charges and suspension of tax audits for a period of three months.
- Exemption from duties and taxes on health equipment, materials and other health inputs in the context of the fight against COVID19.
- Cancellation of penalties for delays in the execution of public contracts and orders.
- Reimbursement of VAT credits within two weeks.
- Payment of the domestic debt by giving priority to invoices below 100 million FCFA to reach the maximum number of enterprises (SMEs, VSEs, …).
- Measures to support the economy:
- Creation of a private sector support fund for an amount of CFAF 250 billion, including CFAF 100 billion in support for SMEs and the creation of a guarantee fund.
- Creation of a fund of CFAF 100 billion to support enterprises of the informal sector.
- Support to the main sectors of the national economy, amounting to CFAF 250 billion; and support to food crop, vegetable, and fruit production, amounting to CFAF 50 billion.
- Social measures in favour of the population:
- Postponement of the deadlines for payment of electricity and water bills from April to July 2020 and from May to August 2020.
- Coverage of electricity and water bills, to be paid in April and May 2020, of the most vulnerable (more than one million households, i.e. about 6 million people).
- Creation of a solidarity fund, amounting to CFAF 170 billion, to finance the most vulnerable populations.
- Reinforcement of price controls on consumer goods and encouragement of flexibility in the payment of rents.
- Business support measures:
- April 9: The National Security Council announces that wearing masks is now mandatory, makes compulsory the confinement at home of all vulnerable people and suggests the reduction of non-essential travel. It also mandates the reduction of the number of passengers in both public and personal transports and develops a testing strategy, with the installation in Abidjan of thirteen local sampling centers, nine of which will be set up before the end of April, out of a total of forty-five that will be deployed throughout the national territory. Fines and penalties are put in place for those who violate home confinement.
- May 7: In a Presidential address, announcements are made to soften the measures in place since 8th of May are softened. These include the suspension of curfew, reopening of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and entertainment venues, the number of participants in meetings, initially capped at 50 people, have now been increased to 200 people and the reopening of pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher education institutions except for the Greater Abidjan area.
- May 15: All measures are lifted, including in the Greater Abidjan area.
Risks, vulnerabilities, obstacles
- According to the World Bank, “Cote d’Ivoire is at very high risk due to travel and trade with many COVID-19 affected countries” and also “the country has been identified by the WHO among 13 African countries as high priorities for support based on volume of travel from China”.
- Several factors are impeding an effective response to the epidemic in Côte d’Ivoire. First, the country has a fragile health system and is highly exposed to countries where the epidemic has spread, which makes Côte d’Ivoire very vulnerable and prone to the spread of the epidemic. Also, like several countries in the area, the country has a large informal economy (30 and 40% of GDP, with informal employment accounting for more than 90% of the labour force) and a poverty rate of 46.3%. People dependent on the informal economy are less protected by conventional social protection mechanisms and other forms of income stabilization. There is a risk of non-application of the measures imposed by the government because the most vulnerable may not be reached by the social measures, forcing them to continue their activities to survive.
- The spread of false and unofficial information among the population can undermine the effectiveness of the measures taken. In response, a citizens’ initiative allowed the creation of an Anti Fake News unit to fight against the information circulating on social networks (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). The government also had to communicate to fight against the “fakes news” which led it to rename the daily brief on the evolution of the epidemic “the right information“.
- Accustomed to high growth rates in recent years, the Ivorian economy will be heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook of April 2020. Growth is expected to reach 2.7% in 2020 (against 6.9% in 2019) and the public deficit is expected to widen to -5.3% (against -2.3% in 2019).
Potential actions and demands
To enable the country to recover quickly, the IMF approved a US$ 886.2 million facility for Côte d’Ivoire under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) on 16 April 2020. On 5 May, the World Bank announced an additional $35 million loan to Côte d’Ivoire as part of the Covid-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Project, bringing the total amount of World Bank funding for the response to the epidemic to $75 million.