Ethiopia bans public events, closes schools as it confirms fifth Covid-19 case

Tuesday March 17 2020

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on August 25, 2018 in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia on March 16, 2020 suspended schools, sporting events and social gatherings as it confirmed its fifth case of Covid-19. PHOTO | MICHAEL TEWELDE | AFP 

TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
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Addis Ababa,

Ethiopia on Monday suspended schools, sporting events and social gatherings as it confirmed its fifth case of Covid-19.

The fifth confirmed case is an Ethiopian citizen who recently flew in from Dubai. All five patients are reported to be in stable condition. The country has so far quarantined over 100 people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that schools would be closed for 15 days, as the country monitors the situation.

However, students in universities and other institutions of higher learning were asked to remain indoors within their campuses, where they will be monitored and given the care they need.

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education is working on a system that will enable students to access online classes within campus.

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As a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus, the government has urged religious institutions and places of worship to limit gatherings.

PM Abiy also ordered government vehicles to provide free transportation to the public to ease overcrowding in the public transport system. At the same time, he urged private companies to support public transport so as to reduce congestion.

The government is currently working on providing protective face masks, medical kits and disinfectants for its citizens.

Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Boureima Hama Sambo urged Ethiopia to take preventive measures to avoid spread of the disease.

At the time, international flights, even from Covid-19 highly affected countries, were still coming in.

“Ethiopia should robustly follow up on the travellers coming from affected countries…The country should also strengthen community- based surveillance and the capacity of frontline health workers,” Mr Sambo said.

Last Friday, Ethiopia announced its first coronavirus case in the capital Addis Ababa when a 48-year old Japanese national tested positive for Covid-19.

The patient arrived in Ethiopia on March 4, 2020 from Burkina Faso.