The U.S. government announced that it will provide $200,000 in COVID-19 assistance to Comoros amid a steady climb of infection rates on the archipelago.
The funds will help train health care workers, buy personal protective equipment (PPE), strengthen COVID-19 surveillance, educate the public about the disease and increase access to medical oxygen, which is crucial in treating critically ill patients.
Comoros is a chain of islands in the western Indian Ocean near the Mozambique Channel’s northern boundary. It has a population of just under 870,000.
“This support follows on the recent distribution of $52,000 in personal protective equipment to health care clinics on all three islands,” Amy Hyatt, U.S. chargé d’affaires to Madagascar and the Comoros, said during a handover ceremony. “That project was funded by the United States Africa Command and distributed with the help of UNICEF and USAID [United States Agency for International Development]. We are grateful for the collaboration of the Ministry of Health on both of these projects.”
The donation announcement was made in early October, a day after the U.S. distributed PPE to health care workers at seven clinics in Comoros. The equipment included 39,000 medical grade face coverings, 39,000 gloves, 6,500 disposable gowns, 2,600 disposable overshoes, 650 goggles, 650 thermometers and 650 bottles of sanitizing gel.
“This head-to-toe equipment, donated by the U.S. government, will keep these Comorian heroes healthy and continuing their vital work of caring for patients sick with the coronavirus,” said Ryan Bradeen, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros.
Comoran Health Minister Loub Yacout Zaïdou addressed the country’s COVID-19 situation in January in an interview with Comoran newspaper Al-Watwan.
“In any case, we are facing a worrying situation, with very serious cases and deaths,” Zaïdou said as the nation entered its second wave of infections. “There are undoubtedly deaths which could have been avoided if only the sick had presented themselves quickly to a health center instead of being treated at home. This behavior is unacceptable and dangerous.”
The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Comoros has steadily declined since late January.
As of October 15, Comoros had reported fewer than 4,200 COVID-19 cases and almost 150 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A gradual increase in COVID-19 cases reported in Comoros that began in late February continued into mid-October.
The U.S. also has supported COVID-19 prevention efforts in Madagascar. In August, the U.S. donated 60 disinfectant sprayers, 400 hand-washing devices, 34 cartons of soap, and 60 20-liter containers to Madagascar’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.