DRC declares state of emergency, shuts borders over coronavirus

Wednesday March 25 2020

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. PHOTO | JOHN WESSELS | AFP 

PATRICK ILUNGA
By PATRICK ILUNGA
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Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi has declared a countrywide state of emergency, and shut down national borders in a bid to stop the potential spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on national television on Tuesday night, the DRC leader said the move had been occasioned by the rising numbers of new infections for Covid-19.

"In view of the gravity and the dangerous nature of this situation, I declare a state of emergency taking into account the security situation which prevails at the moment in our country in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic", said Tshisekedi.

DRC reported one cured patient on Tuesday, but then reported new cases on the same day. By Tuesday night, 48 people had been confirmed infected, according to Health Minister Eteni Longido.

The presidential decree means there will no longer be passenger flights from Kinshasa to the provinces and vice versa, until the state of emergency is lifted.

The country is also shutting down its land, sea and air borders to passenger, private or commercial travel.

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But freight services and emergency transportation would be spared with their crews strictly screened before admittance.

The head of state also ordered the "establishment of minimum services within services and institutions."

DRC, still smarting from an Ebola scourge has some of the poorest health systems in Africa.

With Coronavirus, the population has been largely in panicky mode as seen on Monday when a plan landed with passengers showing symptoms in Lubumbashi, the capital of southeasten province of Haut-Katanga.

 "The two suspected cases have been tested negative by the laboratory of the national biomedical research institute," said Félix Tshisekedi.

With reports that chloroquine can fight against the Coronavirus, the Congolese head of state instructed the "task force" of the fight against Covid-19 to "be able to reflect on this opportunity to eradicate the Coronavirus virus pandemic."

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