Guidance for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in temporary reception centres in the context of the large numbers of people fleeing Ukraine
This document offers public health guidance for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in reception centres, and other temporary accommodation facilities, in the context of the mass influx of Ukrainian people into the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Republic of Moldova.
- This report focuses on COVID-19 vulnerabilities and the need for infection prevention and control in temporary reception centres, in the context of the large numbers of people currently fleeing Ukraine. It is important to note, however, that these are just few of the risks to the health and well-being of the displaced people, and the measures described should be part of more generalised public health approach in support of those fleeing Ukraine.
- Reception centres for displaced people are known to represent a greater risk for COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks. Factors that contribute to increased risk of COVID-19 outbreaks include low vaccination coverage, limited access to healthcare, including testing, and overcrowding.
- Vaccination for COVID-19 remains the most essential intervention. In the absence of documented evidence of prior vaccination, eligible children and adults should be offered a primary vaccination course against COVID-19, as well as a booster dose. However, the elderly, pregnant women, those who are immunocompromised and individuals with underlying conditions at greater risk of severe disease should be prioritised.
- Strategies and service delivery models to ensure access to vaccination for individuals at reception centres may be adapted based on local capacity and infrastructure. Community engagement and community-based approaches to improve trust, counter misinformation and strengthen uptake should be considered. Health communication strategies that are adapted in accordance with language, cultural and health literacy needs will lead to greater uptake of vaccination.
- A physical or digital record of vaccination should be provided, including proof of vaccination for those who are immunised for future reference, which is particularly important for those in transit to another country.
- Where possible, implementation of distancing and infection prevention and control measures in confined places should follow general distancing recommendations to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread.
- To improve understanding and compliance with infection prevention and control measures and to promote vaccination, multilingual signage (information/infographics with pictograms) could be made available in reception centres.
- To reduce the risk of introducing COVID-19 cases into reception centres, testing of all displaced persons on arrival should be considered. If feasible, separate spaces should be provided for positive cases. If testing capacities are limited, priority should be given to the testing of those displaying symptoms compatible with COVID-19. If no SARS-CoV-2 testing capability exists, those exhibiting COVID-19- compatible symptoms should be triaged and managed as possible cases, with appropriate supportive care.
- Procedures for the management of confirmed COVID-19 cases should be planned and collectively agreed upon by the public health authorities of the host country, local health authorities and representatives from the communities.
- Efforts should be made to provide displaced people with psychological first aid, with a special focus on children. Addressing these underlying needs will improve the success of COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.