EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Information last updated: May 10, 2020

  • Total population: 1.3 M
  • Population +65 yo: 2%
  • GDP Per Capita: 22,745 USD
  • Informal employment: Not available
  • First registered case: 13 March
  • Hospital beds: .30 (per 1,000 people)

Status

Stay-at-home order, closure of all non-essential shops and establishments and complete border closure until May 15.

As of 10 May, Equatorial Guinea has a total of 439 confirmed cases, including 4 deaths and 13 recoveries. Most cases are located on Bioko island and in Rio Muni (respectively 364 and 75 cases on 6 May).

Stakeholder Mapping

Entities / Organizations

The Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and its relevant ministries: • Minister for Health and Social Welfare, in charge of and coordinates all measures taken by the government
• Ministry for Finance, Economy and Planning
• Ministry of Industry and Energy’s, etc.

The New Coronavirus Response and Vigilance Committee, managing the COVID-19 National Emergency Fund.

Additional actors

The UN team through the Response Committee (UNFPA, WHO, ILO, UNDP, UNCT; etc.) provides support to the government mainly on sensitization, WASH, Social Protection and Food security sectors.

Other committed actors:
• Baney laboratory
States (mainly USA and Turkey)
• CSOs (The Red Cross; etc.)
• Private Sector (the Constancia Mangue Foundation; Jack Ma Foundation; Huawei; etc.)
• The Bank of Central African States

Mitigating factors - What is being done?

With the first COVID-19 case diagnosed on 13 March, the Country has adopted several measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact, including:

  • May 9 – Launch of the UNDP campaign to install hand-washing taps in collaboration with the US Embassy ($75,000), the Red Cross and the Constancia Mangue Foundation.
  • April 29 – Decree enacting additional measures to strengthen the national system of social protection and support to SMEs.
  • April 28 – Decree suspending the 1st of May holiday (International Workers Day) is issued.
  • April 24 – The COVID-19 response committee is expanded.
  • April 15 – Use of protective face masks and gloves is made mandatory in all public places.
  • March 31 – Decree declaring a State of Health Alarm (effective from 1 April for a 14-day period), which enacts the closure of land, maritime and air borders, mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from countries affected, puts in place a stay-at-home order (except for work, health & essential goods), suspends gatherings of more than 10 people, christenings, academic activities and collective transportation services, creates a Special Fund (counting with voluntary contributions) and of a Novel Coronavirus Surveillance Technical Committee within the Ministry of Health. It also mandates the closure of all non-essential shops and establishments. These measures have since been extended twice, once until April 30 and then until May 15. In addition to these, the Government expands emergency health spending, creates the Public Social Guarantees Programme, and puts in place tax and economic measures to strengthen the national system of social protection and support to SMEs.
  • April 3 – Ban on domestic flights and on movement between districts. 7 March – The Bank of Central African States announces a set of monetary easing measures. 
  • March 26 – The government declares a state of emergency and tightens lockdown measures.
  • March 13: Declaration of a National State of Alarm, which includes the creation of a special emergency fund (government’s contribution of $8 million), the closure of land borders with Cameroon and Gabon and suspension of all commercial international flights. Additionally, embassies no longer issue visas and mandatory 14-day quarantine for individuals arriving from any country affected are made mandatory. 

In addition, thus far, the government continues to invest in acquiring clinical material (new equipment, masks, gloves), is receiving donations from companies (Jack Ma, Huawei) and is consulting with other governments (China, Turkey, France etc.). To date it has also deployed an emergency health spending plan (0.3 percent of GDP), mainly to improve hospital preparedness, the first response system, quarantine facilities for incoming travelers, and laboratory facilities/testing. A more comprehensive health contingency plan should be deployed soon.

Besides these measures taken by the government, UNDP has formulated a broad UN response plan, budgeted at approximately $650,000

Main sources of the historical timeline: News alerts of GardaWorld; Insights on Coronavirus from Vieira de Almeida; press articles. 

Risks, vulnerabilities, obstacles

Equatorial Guinea’s preparedness and response capacity to COVID-19 is extremely limited. According to the WHO preliminary country categorization list as of 16 March, it is classified as Level 2 among the least prepared countries. The Africa Center ranks Equatorial Guinea as the 11th most vulnerable out of 54 African countries, with the highest risk factors related to the public health system, government transparency, press freedom and international exposure. 

The Public Health System is weak:

    • As of April 22, there is only one laboratory capable of testing, with a capacity of carrying out no more than 200 tests/day. However, the Government has purchased from South Africa another machine to carry out 500 additional analytical tests per day.
    • Only two medical institutes are assigned to observe and follow up infected patients.
    • Current deficiency of respirators.
    • Compounding factors: 
        • Lack of awareness among the population, lack of access to food and to sanitation services.
        • Claims of doctors refusing to treat people who are suspected of having the virus.

The government initially only quarantined the continental region, experts foresee multiplication of contagions across the borders.

Socio-economic challenges: 

Potential actions and demands

  • According to UNDP, the contamination in Equatorial Guinea is compounded by the fact that citizens need to physically go to government agencies to pay for essential services, given the lack of digitalization. This lack has also thwarted any attempt from the Government to do cash transfers to vulnerable households. Therefore, UNDP will notably work with UNCDF on a feasibility study of digital payments to facilitate transfers between population and government.
  • As of April 30, the government imported 10,000 preventive doses and 1,500 curative doses of Covid-Organics (a traditional remedy composed of medicinal plants developed in Madagascar) to combat COVID-19. The product is administered on a trial basis to COVID patients and health personnel. This measure has been heavily criticized by several parties: 
  • The pandemic is lacking a robust scientific response according to the Scientific and Technological Research Council (CICTE), a State Body set up in August 2019 to assist the Government in all questions related to Research, Science and Technology. 

Key resources

Contributor(s): Ivan Velasquez.