Djibouti confirms first coronavirus case

Thursday March 19 2020

A coronavirus patient arrives on a stretcher at

A coronavirus patient arrives on a stretcher at the Columbus Covid Hospital, which has been assigned as one of the new coronavirus treatment hospitals in Rome, after being transferred by medical workers in protective white suits from the Gemelli Hospital, in Rome, Italy, March 16, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS 

TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
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Djibouti on Wednesday recorded its first case of novel coronavirus Covid-19, the country’s Ministry of Health announced.

The ministry said the patient, a Spanish national who is part of a 32-member Spanish Special Forces unit, “arrived in the country on March 14 and tested positive on March 17.”

“With the consent of the French military base in Djibouti, all soldiers on the aircraft were immediately isolated in the French military base.”

The ministry said the Special Forces unit did not come into contact with Djibouti citizens, and they would return to Spain.

On March 15, the Djibouti Civil Aviation Authority suspended commercial passenger flights into and out of the country effective March 18, as a precautionary measure against coronavirus spread. However, this suspension does not apply to cargo flights.

Other airlines in the region have also suspended international flights, mainly to countries hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

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Many world powers have military bases in Djibouti. The US has a large military base in Djibouti and China is also building a large military camp.

France has the oldest military presence in the tiny nation, and both Italy and Japan also have a military presence in the country.