Impact of the coronavirus in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

WAVS students and staff have been proactively cleaning and disinfecting the school in anticipation of the coronavirus outbreak.

For the latest number of cases in Guinea-Bissau click here.

September 14, 2020: The WAVS Schools resumed classes, with extra protocols in place like wearing masks, for those students who were enrolled in the Spring term that was cut short by the state of emergency which closed all schools. These classes will go until September 23 and after that teachers will start preparing for the new school year. New classes for the Fall term will start in October.

September 9, 2020: Guinea-Bissau has downgraded its COVID-19 response from a state of emergency to a state of calamity until December 8, 2020. Restrictions are still in place, masks must be worn in public and public gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Schools are now allowed to reopen and travel is resuming.

July 21, 2020: Schools were scheduled to re-open on July 13. But the day before that date, the government changed its mind and ordered schools to remain closed. This was a surprise to WAVS School staff who had spent a significant amount of time organizing and preparing for the Canchungo and Gabu campuses to restart. Nevertheless, the team was able to go ahead and restart the welding course so that the welding students will be able to finish up their training by the end of this month.

June 26, 2020: One hundred days. That is how long Guinea-Bissau has now been under a state of emergency and shelter in place. And the state of emergency has now been extended through July 25.

Under the state of emergency, there are restricted hours for business activity and residents aren’t allowed to leave their region. Police check points have increased. All schools remain closed. All of this makes it difficult to work and most of the people who have been deemed non-essential haven’t been getting a salary. Thanks to the One Student community, the WAVS School has been able to continue paying its staff and teachers even though the school has been closed.

Throughout this pandemic, the incredible team at the WAVS School has continued to stay focused on helping their community and getting ready for when the school can reopen. This past week they participated in a 2 day training.

During the training, teachers discussed curriculum and what things the school can continue to do during this season to make their programs even stronger for the students when they come back.

Please continue to pray for the WAVS School staff, students and people of Guinea-Bissau. Your prayers and financial gifts are vital.

May 1, 2020 : Guinean health authorities announced that in the past 24 hours, Guinea-Bissau has registered 52 new cases of COVID-19 and that the Minister of Public Health, António Deuna himself, is infected with the new coronavirus.  Totals are now at 257 cases, 19 recovered, 1 death.  

April 29, 2020: Total cases rose dramatically to 205.

Guinean Prime Minister, Nuno Gomes Nabian, Minister of the Interior, Botche Candé, Secretary of State for Planning and Regional Integration, Mónica Buaro, and the Secretary of State for Public Order, Mário Fambé are now among those infected.

April 26, 2020: President Sissoco has announced an extension of the state of emergency until May 11, 2020. Total cases are up to 53 and Guinea-Bissau has reported its first death. The patient who died was a senior official at the Ministry of the Interior in Guinea-Bissau.

April 16, 2020: Lili Mane, director of the WAVS School in Canchungo, shares about how his school is helping the community prepare for the impact of COVID-19.

April 16, 2020: Total cases are up to 46 in Guinea-Bissau. The WAVS School Canchungo campus staff are assisting the community by working on vehicles.

April 9, 2020: As of today, there are 36 confirmed cases in Guinea-Bissau, one of which has been confirmed in Canchungo where the WAVS School is located.

April 2, 2020: The WAVS School is currently closed because of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the staff from helping the community.

Lili, the School Director, went to the Canchungo hospital to ask what the staff could do to support them and the community during this crisis. They said they didn’t have enough money for fuel to drive around and educate the community about COVID-19. Lili made an audio recording and drove around Canchungo each day playing it and talking with different community members about COVID-19 and what they should be doing. He did this for five days and earlier this week finished visiting all the neighborhoods in Canchungo.

The staff is continuing to work with the local hospitals to see what additional help they can be during this time.

April 1, 2020: Eight cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Guinea-Bissau. The country is under a state of emergency until April 11. The government has requested for businesses to close and essential businesses can only be open from 7 AM until 11 AM.

March 25, 2020: Guinea-Bissau has reported its first two cases of coronavirus. The patients are a Congolese U.N. employee and an Indian citizen.

March 19, 2020: The coronavirus is already impacting West Africa. In Guinea-Bissau, schools have shut down and the borders have closed. But the WAVS School staff continue to press on.

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Guinea-Bissau and very few in West Africa. However, the country’s healthcare system is extremely fragile and any outbreak could be very difficult to contain.

In response, the government has followed the lead of other countries and closed its borders. And on Wednesday, it also ordered all schools to close until the end of March, including the WAVS School campuses in Canchungo and Gabu. School staff will continue to receive their salaries during this closure. In the meantime, the teachers have provided their students with materials they can use for home study.

Concerns about a coronavirus outbreak in Guinea-Bissau have only added to the country’s existing burdens. It is already struggling with a months-long strike by public school teachers, as well as political instability in the wake of last December’s inconclusive presidential election. More than ever, prayers are needed for our friends in West Africa.

We will continue to monitor the situation so that we can ensure the health and safety of both our local staff and our American staff based in Guinea-Bissau.

In the midst of all the uncertainty and worry, we remember that we can trust God in all circumstances.

And we celebrate the milestones we’ve accomplished together, including the recent launch of a partnership with the government of Japan to build the first classroom building on the new campus in Bissau. We expect to break ground on this building soon.

And finally, we remember that all of us – staff, donors, and volunteers – are invested in a long-term vision to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to pursue a brighter future. Momentary worries like this won’t deter us.

Thank you for making that investment. And thank you for your prayers for the people of Guinea-Bissau and the WAVS School staff during this difficult time.