From: Sebastian Rhodes Stampa

Chief, Emergency Response Section (ERS)

Response Support Branch (RSB)

& INSARAG Secretariat

OCHA Coordination Division - Geneva

Dear INSARAG Colleagues,

We like to share with you a quick update on what OCHA is doing and how we as INSARAG can respond when called upon, at this challenging time:

  • OCHA is deeply engaged with COVID-19 both supporting the WHO led response and in matters related to business continuity planning and duty of care. Given the current climate which has already affected several of our events planned up till June, we can only hope that the situation improves in time to enable us to carry out the work that we must;  
  • The INSARAG Secretariat is mapping the various measures taken at the national level with partners from WHO and ICAO amongst others in order to determine where the showstoppers are. For instance several countries are not allowing entry for nationals from ‘hot-spots’ or who transit via these areas. In these cases a response would have to be ‘nationally tailored’, routed to their destination carefully and quarantine measures considered both on the way in and out. We would not at this stage do much more in terms of specific contingency planning as the COVID-19 ‘rules’ change on a daily basis.
  • We are in contact with our Chinese colleagues on the Fujian team’s successful response to the collapsed building housing suspected Covid-19 people. Should there be a call for international USAR assistance this very moment, I am confident that our INSARAG teams are already well aware on the need to adopt the appropriate PPE for the environment that they will be operating in, and for medical teams, to be in full PPE should there be possible cases of suspected Covid-19 victims. 

We will all have to adopt a high degree of flexibility and adapt accordingly as the situation evolves, while following our calling to continue to assist those in need, in all circumstances.

Thank you.

Kind regards,