COVID-19 Status Update from Intouch Relocations

March 05, 2020

From Intouch Relocations:

Status in The Middle East

Reported Cases as at 5 March 2020: Iran – 2922 | Kuwait - 56 | Bahrain - 49 | United Arab Emirates - 27 | Iraq – 26 | Oman - 12  | Qatar – 8 | Saudi Arabia - 1

Apart from Iran, the number of cases reported in the Middle East remains quite low. However, the local authorities have been taking drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus across the region. Many countries in the region have put travel bans in place, to and from certain countries, and have entry restrictions for some nationalities. Apart from the travel restrictions, some countries have taken the following additional measures:
 
Regionally:

  • Major sport events, exhibitions and concerts canceled or postponed to the fall
  • Despite having only 12 cases, Oman has just quarantined about 2,500 people as a precautionary measure.

 
UAE:

  • All nursery schools have been closed since March 1st.
  • All sport activities and events happening at schools during or after curriculum have been stopped until further notice.
  • It was announced last night that all schools and educational institutions in the country will be closed starting Sunday March 8th for at least 4 weeks. This means that no school tours, visit or assessment can be conducted at this time and most likely during spring break too.

 
We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and keeping our clients and team members updated of any major development potentially impacting our ability to deliver assistance or the daily life of residents.
 

What is the status in Africa

Reported Cases as at 5 March 2020: Algeria - 5 | Egypt - 2 |Nigeria - 1 | Morocco – 1 | Senegal – 1 | Tunisia – 1
With relatively few reported cases, it is uncertain why Africa has remained largely unaffected by the COVID-19 virus to date. Africa’s preparedness and ability to cope with an outbreak of this magnitude is a concern and the continent has perhaps fortuitously been granted a ‘grace period’ in which to better prepare. As it stands now, 29 out of 47 countries have laboratories equipped to test for the virus and most countries have screening and containment protocols in place. The WHO has prioritized response and detection measures in 13 African countries because of their direct links with, or high volume of travel to and from China. Organizations like the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are now trying to strengthen public health systems across Africa in preparation for a COVID-19 outbreak. Ebola virus outbreaks in West and Central Africa make these countries especially well equipped with skills, resources and procedures in place to handle COVID-19. That said, public health infrastructure in nearly all African countries is constrained and will be put under severe strain when having to deal with is still not where it needs to be to deal with a fast-moving viral disease like COVID-19.

South Africa: The following is taken from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases website:
There have been no cases of COVID-19 reported in South Africa. Active surveillance is in place to identify an imported case should one occur. Fever screening is in place at international airports. If there is a suspected case, procedures are in place for case isolation and management as well as rapid specimen collection and transport so that the diagnosis can quickly be made. Suspected cases will be managed at designated hospitals with isolation facilities. Protocols are in place for follow up of case contacts to ensure that the virus does not spread.
 

What precautions are we taking?

Intouch Relocations have put in place the following measures:

  • Checking reputable sources twice a day and verifying latest data
  • Checking latest travel advisories
  • Daily updates to all employees regarding the spread of the disease and current status in the locations we cover
  • Sharing the WHO recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus including hand hygiene, use of masks and keeping a safe distance from people with flu like symptoms.
  • Contingency plans for in-house employees to work from home in the event of an outbreak in our office locations
  • We are working closely with our clients to identify assignees traveling from (or who have traveled to) heavily affected areas, and advising delaying home finding and orientation trips where prudent.
  • Protocol for field consultants:
    • Have hand sanitiser in vehicles and use regularly
    • Have antibacterial wipes at hand and wipe down vehicle interior after each usage
    • Have masks available in vehicles
    • Report back to the office if they or an assignee on board feels unwell

What are we recommending to our clients?

Intouch Relocations is working closely with our clients to keep them informed and try to mitigate the risk for mobile workforces. We recommend:

  • Before authorising an assignee’s travel, check where they are traveling from and if they have been in an affected area recently
  • Checking if their ability to travel to a location will be impacted due to travel bans
  • Check if our ability to deliver the services required will be impacted
  • Notify us of any risks
  • Reschedule the trip if prudent