Dili, 14 May 2021 – The European Union is allocating €1 million (over USD 1.2 million) in humanitarian aid funding to respond to the rapid increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Timor-Leste in recent months. The aid will focus on increasing the country’s response capacity in the most affected areas, including the capital Dili where most cases have been registered so far.
“The healthcare staff and facilities in Timor-Leste are being pushed to the limit with more and more cases of coronavirus having been reported nationwide,” said Olivier Brouant who oversees EU’s humanitarian response in Timor-Leste. “We are responding quickly to channel emergency support to ensure the country’s healthcare systems are well equipped to deal with the pandemic.”
The EU funding will support the World Health Organization (WHO) in addressing the most urgent needs through various interventions. These include increasing the number of isolation facilities for mild and moderate cases, strengthening the capacity for critical care management in major hospitals, improving referral and transport systems of patients, and training health care and support workers. Vital items such as medicines, oxygen support systems and personal protection equipment will also be procured.
Already reeling from the severe floods that hit Timor-Leste in late March, the southeast Asian nation has experienced a drastic surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, reporting nearly 3,500 cases as of 12 May, compared with less than 100 between April 2020 and February 2021. The sharp increase in cases has posed a serious threat to the country’s fragile health system, which usually becomes quickly overwhelmed by a small number of cases. Dili is the most affected area where an estimated 20,000 people are believed to have been infected. Following the worsening situation, the government has extended the state of emergency until 1 June in an effort to curb the number of cases nationwide.