Interim Operational Considerations for Implementing the Shielding Approach to Prevent COVID-19 Infections in Humanitarian Settings


Other logistical considerations

Consideration: Plan to identify additional resources and outline supply chain mechanisms to support green zones.

Explanation: The implementation and operation of green zones requires strong coordination among several sectors which may require substantial additional resources:  supplies and staff to maintain these spaces – shelters, IPC, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), non-food items (NFIs) (beds, linens, dishes/utensils, water containers), psychosocial support, monitors/supervisors, caretakers/attendants, risk communication and community engagement, security, etc. Considering global reductions in commodity shortages,17 movement restrictions, border closures, and decreased trucking and flights, it is important to outline what additional resources will be needed and how they will be procured.

Protection

Consideration: Ensure safe and protective environments for all individuals, including minors and individuals who require additional care whether they are in the green zone or remain in a household after the primary caregiver or income provider has moved to the green zone.

Explanation: Separating families and disrupting and deconstructing multigenerational households may have long-term negative consequences. Shielding strategies need to consider sociocultural gender norms in order to adequately assess and address risks to individuals, particularly women and girls. 18,19,20 Restrictive gender norms may be exacerbated by isolation strategies such as shielding. At the household level, isolating individuals and limiting their interaction, compounded with social and economic disruption has raised concerns of potential increased risk of partner violence. Households participating in house swaps or sector-wide cohorting are at particular risk for gender-based violence, harassment, abuse, and exploitation as remaining household members may not be decision-makers or responsible for households needs.18,19,20

Social/Cultural/Religious Practices

Consideration: Plan for potential disruption of social networks.

Explanation: Community celebrations (religious holidays), bereavement (funerals) and other rites of passage are cornerstones of many societies. Proactive planning ahead of time, including strong community engagement and risk communication is needed to better understand the issues and concerns of restricting individuals from participating in communal practices because they are being shielded. Failure to do so could lead to both interpersonal and communal violence.21,22

Mental Health

Consideration: Ensure mental health and psychosocial support*,23 structures are in place to address increased stress and anxiety.

Explanation: Additional stress and worry are common during any epidemic and may be more pronounced with COVID-19 due to the novelty of the disease and increased fear of infection, increased childcare responsibilities due to school closures, and loss of livelihoods. Thus, in addition to the risk of stigmatization and feeling of isolation, this shielding approach may have an important psychological impact and may lead to significant emotional distress, exacerbate existing mental illness or contribute to anxiety, depression, helplessness, grief, substance abuse, or thoughts of suicide among those who are separated or have been left behind. Shielded individuals with concurrent severe mental health conditions should not be left alone. There must be a caregiver allocated to them to prevent further protection risks such as neglect and abuse.



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