To mitigate the social impact of the COVID-19 crisis, a significant number of countries have introduced temporary cash transfers to population groups in, or at risk of, poverty. These payments have responded to the specific needs of these vulnerable groups who are immediately affected by a reduction in their job opportunities or income. In addition to supporting low-income families, children, informal economy workers or older persons with low or no pension income, a number of cash transfer programmes have also aimed at maintaining domestic consumption.
North African countries reacted quite swiftly to the spread of the coronavirus. They declared national states of emergency, imposed widespread lockdowns and closed their borders from the very first cases of infection. Systems for testing and systematically monitoring confirmed cases were also put in place. In addition, health facilities and hospitals were bolstered and remodelled with a view to improving the care of COVID-19 patients. All of this has led to convincing results in terms of controlling the spread of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a heavy toll on migrant workers around the globe, who are particularly vulnerable in terms of social protection coverage, and assistance is required from origin, transit and destination countries. While the specific type of support is linked to various factors, most migrant workers, regardless of their type of migration or legal status, need access to some sort of safety net to reduce the impact of the crisis. A number of governments and social security institutions have made efforts to include migrant workers in social protection responses to the crisis. A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) outlines such approaches.
Malta implemented early measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and flatten the curve. Preparedness, physical isolation and quarantine, alongside a comprehensive programme of testing and contact tracing, allowed Malta to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to these public health measures, Malta implemented a series of social security measures to deal with the economic and social impact, to keep the economy afloat, safeguard jobs and assist workers and vulnerable persons.
Social security measures have played a key role to mitigate the health, social and economic impact of COVID-19 in France. A comprehensive package of social security responses was launched when health emergency was declared on 16 March.
A series of substantial measures have been taken in the Argentine Republic in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Of particular note among these are the financial bolstering of social security benefits, the strengthening of institutions’ digital customer-service channels and the launch of measures to support and maintain formal employment. The country’s National Social Security Administration (Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social – ANSES), Federal Administration of Public Resources (Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos – AFIP), Secretariat for Social Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Social), National Social Services Institute for Retirees and Pensioners (Instituto Nacional de Servicios Sociales para Jubilados y Pensionados – PAMI) and Superintendency of Occupational Risks (Superintendencia de Riesgos del Trabajo – SRT) play a key role in this scheme.
Social security institutions are an important face of government, particularly when disasters strike. As the turmoil and the global loss of lives and livelihoods caused by the coronavirus continue to rise, social security administrators are standing ground and keeping the promise: to deliver benefits and services in good times and in bad.
In Spain, the government introduced a significant number of social security measures to mitigate the health, social and economic impact of COVID-19. The National Social Security Institute (INSS) and the General Treasury of Social Security (TGSS) have played a key role in implementing these measures.
The current COVID-19 crisis has disrupted customer services in social security institutions worldwide. Institutions had to rapidly adapt their service delivery approaches to ensure the continuity of social security services while reducing personal interactions to a minimum. Furthermore, in the context of the crisis, institutions had to respond to an increased demand for short-term benefits as well as to implement a number of new social security measures.
In the People’s Republic of China, social security measures were an important component of the government’s emergency response in the context of COVID-19. The combination of adaptations to social security contributions and benefits with adjustments to operational processes and service delivery approaches enabled the social security system to contribute effectively to mitigating the economic and social impact of the crisis. The experience of China confirms the key role of administrative capacity and institutional adaptability in crisis management and emergency responses.