Ethiopian Airlines suspends flights to 30 countries hardest-hit by Covid-19

Friday March 20 2020

An Ethiopian Airlines plane.

An Ethiopian Airlines plane. The carrier has stopped flights to 30 countries hardest-hit by Covid-19. PHOTO | FILE  

TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
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National carrier Ethiopian Airlines has suspended flights to 30 countries hardest-hit by novel coronavirus (Covid19) effective immediately, PM Abiy Ahmed has announced.

In a televised address Friday evening, Abiy said all passengers arriving in Ethiopia from the affected countries will be quarantined at designated facilities for 14 days until their status is known.

The countries affected by the directive include; Angola, Djibouti, Bahrain, Chad, Cameroon, Congo Republic, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Switzerland, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Spain and Sudan.

Confirming the announcement, the carrier tweeted; "We would like to inform our esteemed customers that we have stopped flight to 30 countries due to Covid-19 virus".

The Prime Minister added that Covid-19 outbreak had imposed grave consequence on the country’s economy.

The flag carrier has become subject to heavy loss in revenue due to the Coronavirus threat.

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“Ethiopian Airlines alone has recorded at least $190 million in losses” he said adding “Textile and flower exports have also declined due to less interest from buyers”

Despite the losses, the Ethiopian Airlines has not laid-off employees unlike many other airliners.

Other new measures introduced today include closure of night clubs and release of prisoners who served most of their prison terms and those who didn’t commit serious offenses.

With regard to the upcoming nation election slated for July, Abiy said the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) was undertaking its own assessment on whether the country could conduct the polls.

“If we manage to shortly contain the spread of the virus like how the Chinese are doing, it will be good to hold the election as per scheduled” he said.

“However, a final decision will be made based on the assessment of the electoral board” he added.

Regarding the response from the international community in the to the country's fight against the virus, the premier said the country is receiving assistance from both Jack Ma and Bill and Melinda Gates foundations.

“As you all know, Jack Ma has recently pledged to donate 20,000 test kits and one million face masks to each African country,” said Ahmed.

“The first shipment of test kits and face masks will reach Ethiopia on Sunday and we are also working for a quick shipment to all other African countries,”

According to the Ministry of Health, Ethiopia currently has nine confirmed cases of COVID-19. The patients are four Japanese, three Ethiopians, one Austrian and one British diplomat.

So far, there are no confirmed cases outside of the capital Addis Ababa. The country is also conducting tests to hundreds of suspected cases.

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