Figure in Somalia (60%) Much Higher than the Rest of the World


By Kalei Talwar

Somalia has seen an unprecedented surge of deaths in recent days with this number is likely to be even higher than reported due to lack of testing. Somalia has recorded 756 COVID-19 cases, including 35 deaths, as of 5 May, however, CARE is particularly worried by the fact that around 60% of those being tested are testing positive for the virus – a figure higher than much of the rest of the world. Somalia’s health ministry does not have a single ventilator.

CARE has spokespeople available on the ground in Somalia to talk about this situation (statement from Abdi Nur Elmi, CARE’s Somalia Emergency Director is below), as well as CARE’s humanitarian response to the situation. We can also source photos and/or b-roll if helpful. 

Somalia comes top of the INFORM Global Risk Index with a vulnerability score of 8.9 out of 10. This makes it the country with the weakest capacity to cope with the added stress of a pandemic such as COVID-19 in the world. With a health system already at breaking point, if no urgent attention is given to this looming crisis, Somalia will likely suffer the effects of the pandemic more severely than many other countries. 

  • CARE plans to reach over 2 million people with awareness raising and communication, bulk SMS messaging, radio and TV talk shows, provision of supplies including non-food items for hygiene and sanitation and installation of handwashing facilities at targeted health facilities.
  • Community awareness programs through TV and radio shows are ongoing and as of the end of April CARE Somalia had already reached 1.2 million people with critical COVID awareness and prevention messages.
  • CARE is also continuing to support the Somali education system directly or through partners including local community network – community hygiene promoters, GBV focal persons, Community Education committees.

Abdi Nur Elmi CARE Somalia Emergency Director says:

“The numbers of people being tested for the coronavirus in Somalia remain low, but the worrying trend that we are seeing is that over 60% of people being tested are coming back positive for the virus. This is much higher than in European countries or the US. For example, in the US of the over 6 million people tested for the virus only around 1 million have tested positive (17%).

While there are of course a number of reasons why this may be the case, it is still extremely worrying in a country where less than 20 per cent of the health facilities have the required equipment and supplies to manage an outbreak this is extremely worrying news. We are also worried by the stigma that is being associated with the virus which has resulted in some people showing symptoms but not seeking healthcare for fear of stigmatization.

Somalia is already one of the world’s most vulnerable countries with over 2.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living in 2,000 overcrowded sites, with poor access to safe drinking water , clean latrines and hygiene kits including soap and more than 1.2 million people suffering from food insecurity. Coronavirus coming on top of this risks reversing the many hard-won gains achieved over the last decade across the country.”