April 1: Tigray is first regional state with COVID-19 lab
Northern Tigray region has become the first regional state in Ethiopia to have a COVID-19 testing lab. This development comes at a time when the state has no confirmed case of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reports indicate that the medical facility is as a result of cooperation between Mekelle University and the Tigray Health Bureau and Tigray Health Research Institute. The lab started work on April 1 in the presence of region’s Vice President Debretsion GhebreMichael.
President of the university noted that the institution had the support of the Ethiopia Public Health Institute, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
This is the second “lead” since Ethiopia recorded a case last month. Tigray declared a state of emergency and near lockdown days before other states followed suit.
Ethiopia currently has 29 confirmed cases of the virus according to the Ministry of Health. Government has shut all land borders except for essential imports coming in. Cases have been recorded in capital Addis Ababa, Oromia and Amhara regional states and in Dire Dawa, a chartered city.
Breaking News: in a strong collaboration among Mekelle University, Tigray Bureau of Health & Tigray Health Research Institute, testing #coronavirus #Covid19 has began at #Mekelle – We thank all the committed professionals! Exemplary partnership! We made it— Kindeya G.hiwot, Prof (@DrKindeya) April 1, 2020
April 1: Close places of worship: Orthodox church follows Islamic council
Barely twenty-four hours after the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, EIASC, announced cessation to all prayers in mosques, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, EOTC, announced a similar measure.
The church’s Holy Synod at a press briefing on Wednesday said as of tomorrow followers of the Church, the largest in Ethiopia, should pray from home and only a limited number of priests should conduct prayers inside churches.
The Holy Synod also decided that all premises of spiritual colleges, Sunday schools and other facilities under EOTC should be designated to serve as isolation centers for COVID19 suspected patients in the event of the possible spread.
The church also donated 3 million birr to contain the virus.
News Alert:#Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) said all Mosques should close down & members of the Muslim community should perform their prayers at home. It also said the Ulama Council has ordered to suspend all teaching-learning processes until #COVID19 is over pic.twitter.com/riPpmfeKEY— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) March 31, 2020
March 31: Al-Amoudi donates towards COVID-19 fight
Ethiopia-born Saudi billionaire, Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi has made the biggest private donation yet to coronavirus combat in Ethiopia.
He donated the sum of 120 million birr (about $3.6m) to the Addis Ababa city administration on Tuesday. Ethiopia as of midday March 31 had 25 confirmed cases of the virus. Transport has been banned in most parts of the country as government moves to curb spread.
Infections have so far been recorded in the capital Addis Ababa, and in the oromia and Amhara regional states.
Al-Amoudi who is owner of a mining firm Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Cos., MIDROC.
He was arrested on corruption related charges by the Saudi government back in 2017 but was released in early 2019 after the active intervention of Prime Minister Abiya Ahmed Ali.
Amoudi, in his 70s, became a multi-billionaire investing first in construction, agriculture and mining in Ethiopia, where he was born, and then purchasing oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden. Forbes valued his fortune at more than $10 billion in 2016.
FBC (Fana Broadcasting Corporate S.C.) (@fanatelevision) March 31, 2020
March 30: Ethiopian regions ban transport
Four regional states in Ethiopia have imposed a ban on transport as part of coronavirus containment measures. The regions are northern Tigray region (which has declared a state of emergency since last week.), Oromia, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region.
Prior to the last weekend, cases were recorded only in Addis Ababa. Oromia recorded two cases on Saturday whiles the first two in Amhara region were recored on Monday.
The federal government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed closed all land borders even as the national flier, Ethiopian, continues a very scaled down operations of passenger flights concentrating more on freight.
The country currently has 23 confirmed cases out of which two have since been repatriated. Authorities say contact tracing efforts are underway whiles quarantined persons continue to be tested.
March 29: Ethiopia reports cases outside Addis Ababa
Ethiopia at close of day March 29 had reported 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19. An increase of five over the weekend. Three on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Of the three cases on Saturday, one was recorded in the capital Addis Ababa and two in the town of Adama located in the Oromia region. It is the first reported case outside of the capital since the first cases was confirmed earlier this month.
“The other two cases are a 14 year old male and 48 year old female who are members of a family who resides in Adama town. They had history of contact with previously confirmed case. They were under medical follow up since the confirmation of the close contact and tested positive on March 28th 2020,” a statement from the Ministry of Health read in part.
Out of close to 900 tests, Ethiopia has recorded 21 cases, a recovery with two of the confirmed cases having been repatriated to their countries.
Meanwhile more details are emerging from the state of emergency imposed by the Tigray regional state. Among other measures, coffee houses, cafes and juice houses shall be closed.
Anyone who travelled out of Tigray in the past 20 days shall be tested. Anyone who enters Tigray after shall be tested and put under supervision. All house rents shall be halved over the period.
March 26: Tigray region imposes state of emergency
Ethiopia’s northern Tigray regional state on Thursday, March 26, announced a region-wide state of emergency as a means of combating the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tigray Mass Media Agency said the decision was reached a day after the regional state council met and agreed on the decision which has implications on movement and on social activities.
Under the 15-day emergency rule: all travels within the state is banned. There is also a ban on social activities such as weddings and other festivities which could lead of large gatherings. Markets are also to be closed.
More details are expected to be released later. The federal government has closed all land borders as per the decision of an inter-ministerial COVID-19 committee led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
As at March 25, Ethiopia had confirmed 12 cases with all cases in the capital Addis Ababa. The figure is out of about 500 tests overall. It is woefully minimal as compared to South Africa’s over 15,000 tests that have turnd out 704 confirmed cases.
March 22: Ethiopia shuts land borders, impose more restrictions
Ethiopia will deploy the army to halt the movement of people along all borders, with the exception of incoming essential goods to the country, this is one of eight new measures being implemented by the federal government in the wake of the coronavirus spread.
Prime minister Abiy Ahmed on March 23 met with heads of the security sector for deliberations aimed at containment of the pandemic. The group he met today are the security sub-committee of the National Ministerial Committee.
Aside shutting land borders, a series of enforcement measures were announced relating to regulations on large gatherings and social distancing. Public transports are to avoid overcrowding whiles businesses will be checked in line with normal pricing of essentials.
Government offices have been tasked to employ adequate safety measures for employees whiles seeking home options for other employees. The security forces – army and police – are to undertake internal preparations for enforcement of the relevant rules.
March 20: Ethiopian suspends flights to 30 countries
State-affiliated FBC reports that Ethiopian airlines (Ethiopian) has suspended flights to 30 countries due to coronavirus (COVID-19), effective from Friday March 20.
At the beginning of the outbreak, Ethiopian maintained a decision to stick to its China route at a time most African airlines had suspended operations to and from the country. Ethiopia currently has nine confirmed cases and tests are being run on hundreds of suspected cases.
According to journalist Samson Berhane, CEO of the company, Africa’s most profitable and expansive, confirmed that they had made losses of up to $190 million. “We ll probably face the biggest crisis in the history of aviation in Ethiopia,” Tewolde Gebremariam said.
The FBC report adds that Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed had announced that all passengers arriving in Ethiopia from COVID -19 affected countries will be quarantined for 14 days, with all cost to be covered by themselves. Uganda has a similar rule in place.
Night clubs are to remain closed whiles government is set to release a category of prisonser. Specifically inmates who have children, and whose probationary period is drawing to an end plus those in detention for minor crimes, the PM added.
On the subject of religious institutions, Abiy said they had been tasked to take all necessary measures towards the implementation of a robust mechanism to prevent the spread of the virus.
March 19: Ethiopians must join world not stigmatize others – Minister
Ethiopia’s Health Minister says the coronavirus pandemic was not related to any country or nationality, she said it as a “test against humanity” which required Ethiopians to join the world to defeat.
“#COVID19 is not related to any country or nationality. It is a test against all humanity. We should fight it together and defeat it. I call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands with the world to fight this global challenge,” her post on Twitter read.
It is believed to be connected to a United States Embassy statement that alerted to rising anti-foreigner sentiments in parts of the country.
The embassy cautioned that foreigners were being targeted with the accusation that they were infected with Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.
In a security alert said as at March 18, the embassy: “continues to receive reports regarding a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment.”
Typical derogatory comments such as “China” and “ferengi” (a reference to foreigners) have been “reportedly coupled with the label ‘corona’, indicating a disparaging view on the link between the outbreak of Covid-19 and foreigners in Ethiopia,” it added.
“Reports indicate that foreigners have been attacked with stones, denied transportation services… being spat on, chased on foot, and been accused of being infected with Covid-19,” the embassy added.
Ethiopia recorded its first case last week of a Japanese national. The cases have risen to six, the sixth being of a British diplomat. Health authorities said they were testing over 900 people for the virus as part of contact tracing efforts connected to confirmed cases.
Across Africa, there is a view that most confirmed cases have been imported largely from Europe. Most index cases were of either European nationals or of Africans with recent travel history to Europe. There are sixteen deaths so far, as at March 19.
U.S. president Donald Trump has been under fire on Twitter for referring to the coronavirus as “The Chinese Virus.” Most people have called the reference racist especially with the WHO cautioning against tagging a global malady with a certain category of people.
March 16: Ethiopia’s COVID-19 rules: Crowd ban, free transport, regulate essentials etc.
Ethiopia confirmed the fifth coronavirus case on Monday (March 16), a day after it had recorded an increase of three in addition to the index case that was recorded last week.
The office of the Prime Minister issued a statement surrounding key measures taken by government to safeguard public safety and orderliness.
The COVID-19 National Ministerial Committee at its second meeting led by PM Abiy agreed on a number of measures aimed at addressing containment and potential spread of the virus.
It announced a 10-point measure that was set to last “for the next two weeks, subject to further assessments,” the statement read. the measures included wide-ranging public bans, social interventions and regulating of economic activities propped up by the pandemic.
- Large gatherings including sporting events had been banned whiles small gatherings required clearance from the Health Ministry.
- All educational institutions with the exception of higher learning institutions were to be closed.
- Religious institutions and places of worship are tasked to limit gatherings
- A national hygiene and preventive measures movement launched from federal level to local levels
- Government announced allocation of budget for distribution of masks, soap, alcohol solutions and other items in critical locations.
- Government buses are to be availed free of charge to help control crowding in public transport. Special buses designated to take public servants to work. Private transporters are also asked to follow suit.
- Trade ministry to monitor and act against businesses engaging in price-gouging
- Special attention to be paid to the elderly.
- Volunteers tasked to compliment government education, prevention efforts.
“The Prime Minister calls upon all to maintain calm and equip themselves with accurate information from the Ministry of Health.
“Citizens are asked to maintain strong hand hygiene and avoid (ing) unnecessary physical contact in line with Ministry of Health guidelines,” the statement concluded.
PM Abiy over the weekend disclosed that he had reached a partnership with Chinese e-commerce founder Jack Ma for an Africa wide supply of key coronavirus materials including masks, testing kits and literature.
Together with members of my cabinet, I have accepted— Abiy Ahmed Ali ?? (@AbiyAhmedAli) March 16, 2020
WHOand DrTedros’s #SafeHands challenge as a means of preventing the spread of #COVID19. I challenge
EmmanuelMacronand MohamedBinZayed pic.twitter.com/66DpjmpAA9