In these extremely uncertain times, I would like to share our heartfelt support and solidarity with you and your families, hoping that you are keeping healthy and safe.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China in January 2020 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The WHO stated then that there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world. It is now declared as a pandemic and at the time of writing (Sunday, March 29th), one with over 780,000 cases confirmed in 203 countries.
Since January, we have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. Currently, 8 out of the 9 countries (South Sudan as the exception) in which we maintain offices, have confirmed positive cases: the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, stakeholders, and communities remain our top priority.
With travel bans, quarantines, lockdowns, and other measures being implemented to slow or stop the spread of the virus, we expect that this will have a demonstrable impact on our work. We are doing our best to strike a balance between continuing our well-needed programs in the rural communities we serve and prioritizing the safety of our staff. Our priority will always be our staff – some of whom have been with us for decades.
As the situations in each country rapidly evolve our regional and country directors have been organizing response plans to be implemented as soon as we are able. Along with UKDFID and UNICEF, our team was mobilized during the Ebola epidemic, and we are certain to again assist in strengthening rural communities during and after this pandemic.
We are moving forward in this difficult and uncertain time with a strategy of preparedness, action, and togetherness.
Lastly, I am committed to keeping you informed as the situation evolves. Though none of us knows just how long this uncertainty will all last, we do know that your consistent support has so far allowed us to reach some of the most rural and vulnerable communities on the planet and we will continue to do so. For this, we would like to say a huge thank you.
I wish you and your families the very best of health.