AKIPRESS.COM - Mongolia has recorded very few cases of COVID-19, less than 300 as on date, despite its more than 4,000 kilometre porous border with China. However, the country faces a major economic impact from the pandemic, says Tapan Mishra, the UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia, un.org reported.
The government of Mongolia closed all educational institutions including kindergartens, schools and universities at the beginning of the year.
It also introduced strict measures on social distancing, such as a ban on public gatherings, limiting public transportation, closing public spaces such as gyms, and making the wearing of masks in public compulsory. Travel has been very limited, including a complete ban on any international travel by road, rail, or air.
Mongolia has been very vulnerable to the pandemic, not only because of its physical proximity to China and Russia including close links and dependence for economic interests, but also due to its own inadequate health care system.
Despite these challenges, there has been no local transmission reported (cases have been limited to patients importing the virus), and I would say that the leadership of the country has dealt well with the pandemic, says Tapan Mishra.
Another factor that has helped in making Mongolia’s response a success story, is that the citizens of the country have diligently complied with the government’s directives and regulations.
The requirements to wear masks, ensure good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing, have been seriously adhered to.
Even during the Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian Lunar New Year in February, they complied with government orders, and did not even visit their extended families and elders, which is a tradition for Mongolian families.
Several UN agencies are physically present in Mongolia, with more providing support from outside.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the UN bodies came together under the leadership of the office of the Resident Coordinator, and they have been following the World Health Organization’s response plan, and the UN’s humanitarian and socio-economic response plans, Tapan Mishra noted.
This has involved setting up a socio-economic task force, and identifying the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable people in Mongolian society.
Unfortunately, it is highly likely that the pandemic will set back the progress we have been making in Mongolia, Tapan Mishra said.
The Government took early, effective action against the spread of COVID-19, but the increased borrowing, amid an economy hit by reduced exports, means that it will be difficult to recover from the socio-economic impacts of the crisis.
In collaboration with the IMF, World Bank and other partners, UN are conducting detailed studies to look at the real impacts and they are also working with the Government of Mongolia to ensure that the recovery plans do not leave anyone behind.
Tapan Mishra expressed hope that donors provide the funding that is needed to support the most vulnerable people in Mongolia, and help to ensure that the post-pandemic recovery benefits all members of society.