Entebbe, Uganda. The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has now reached 340,000 and the death toll has surpassed 14,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Uganda, the location of Air Serv’s operations and maintenance headquarters, confirmed its first case of the virus on 21 March. 43 of Africa’s 54 countries have now reported positive test results. Although reports of confirmed cases have only begun recently and the pandemic is in the early stages, the virus is expected to spread quickly and hit hard.
A number of African countries, including those in which Air Serv currently operates, are already in extremely fragile states due to war, famine, and disease, and are particularly susceptible to the viral outbreak. In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which registered its first positive case on March 14, the COVID-19 pandemic comes fresh on the heels of an Ebola epidemic which has lasted nearly two years, taxing already stretched resources.
Air Serv has taken steps to ensure the safety of its crew and passengers, and is working with local and international partners in order to be better positioned to respond as the crisis worsens. In accordance with directives from the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control, crew and staff have been supplied with gloves and masks, aircraft are cleaned before and after each flight, passengers are receiving temperature screenings prior to boarding, and emergency protocols have been put in place for both field and home offices.
As the virus spreads, humanitarian responders are faced with challenges the world has not seen in generations. In addition to requiring medical response, the pandemic will require immense logistical coordination. Sanitizing products and protective gear are already in short supply worldwide. Air Serv is working with partners to source products and coordinate the delivery of these items to remote field locations.
Air Serv aircraft are the bridge connecting lifesaving aid with those who need it most. The organization is urgently requesting donations and pledges to respond to this unprecedented crisis. Donor-supplemented programs will facilitate the delivery of desperately needed supplies, and permit partner organizations to focus the bulk of their budgets where they will have the most impact, providing healthcare, shelter, food, and sanitation. Donations can be made through the Air Serv website at www.airserv.org. Inquiries regarding in-kind gifts can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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