The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, a former Portuguese colony located in the Gulf of Guinea in Western Africa, had reported a total of 1,786 COVID-19 cases, representing less than one percent of its population (215,000), as of February 2021. There is little information available about the impact of the pandemic on migrants in the country, who in 2015 made up a mere 1.3 percent of its population, or with respect to immigration detainees or prisoners. The country does not have a functioning asylum procedure.
The U.S. State Department’s 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in São Tomé and Príncipe reported that the country had overcrowded prisons that lacked medical services and infrastructure, and failed to separate pretrial and convicted detainees, and children and adults. It also reported that roughly 25 percent of the imprisoned population were pretrial detainees.
The country recorded its first four COVID-19 cases on 6 April 2020, the last country in Africa to do so. The country announced a state of emergency in March, before it reported its first case of infection, which included an international travel ban except for citizens. On 6 May 2020, a new lockdown was imposed, which only allowed exceptions for essential businesses, shift workers, and food service providers, until 17 May 2020. The state of emergency was downgraded to a “state of alert” in June, and then upgraded again to a “state of calamity” in November 2020, which remained in place as of February 2021.
- A. R. A. Shaban, “52nd African Country Confirms Coronavirus Cases: Sao Tome and Principe,” Africa News, 6 April 2020,
- Garda World, “São Tomé and Príncipe: Authorities Confirm first COVID-19 cases April 6 /update 1,” 7 April 2020, https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/329881/sao-tome-and-principe-authorities-confirm-first-covid-19-cases-april-6-update-1
- Garda World, “São Tomé and Príncipe: Authorities Extend State of Calamity Until August 15 /update 4,” 31 July 2020, https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/365276/sao-tome-and-principe-authorities-extend-state-of-calamity-until-august-15-update-4
- Garda World, “São Tomé and Principe: Authorities Extend State of Calamity Until December 15 /update 1,” 30 November 2020, https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/405341/sao-tome-and-principe-authorities-extend-state-of-calamity-until-december-15-update-1
- Garda World, “Sao Tome and Principe: State of Calamity Extended Through Jan. 15 /update 14,” 16 December 2020, https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/416321/sao-tome-and-principe-state-of-calamity-extended-through-jan-15-update-14
- Garda World, “Sao Tome and Principe: Authorities Extend COVID-19-Related State of Calamity Through March 2 /update 18,” 15 February 2021, https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/443011/sao-tome-and-principe-authorities-extend-covid-19-related-state-of-calamity-through-march-2-update-18
- Macao Business, “Sao Tome: Government to Impose Nationwide Lockdown from Wednesday,” 5 May 2020, https://www.macaubusiness.com/sao-tome-government-to-impose-nationwide-lockdown-from-wednesday/
- Macao Business, “Sao Tome: Government Suspends Links with Principe, Among Other Covid-19 Measures,” 7 April 2020, https://www.macaubusiness.com/sao-tome-government-suspends-links-with-principe-among-other-covid-19-measures/
- R. Graça, “São Tomé e Príncipe: Mortes por Covid-19 disparam e população ignora a doença,” DW, 25 February 2021, https://www.dw.com/pt-002/s%C3%A3o-tom%C3%A9-e-pr%C3%ADncipe-mortes-por-covid-19-disparam-e-popula%C3%A7%C3%A3o-ignora-a-doen%C3%A7a/a-56699946
- United States Department of State, “2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Sao Tome and Principe,” https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/sao-tome-and-principe/
- World Bank, “International migrant stock (% of population),” https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SM.POP.TOTL.ZS