Schools Closed as Ethiopia Records More COVID-19 Cases

ADDIS ABABA – The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Ethiopia has increased to five prompting the government to close schools and ban public gatherings.

Ethiopia – which confirmed its first case on Friday – registered three more cases of the coronavirus infections in two Japanese nationals aged 44 and 47 years and one Ethiopian aged 42 on Sunday.

The fifth case was registered on Monday.  He is a 34-year-old Ethiopian citizen who returned from Dubai on March 12, 2020, according to the ministry of health.

“All of these persons are under close medical follow up and show no sign of health problems,” the ministry added.

– Public Gathering Banned –

The increase in the number of cases has prompted the government to come up with various measures to be undertaken in the next two months.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said these measures include banning of large gatherings and meetings to be postponed including sporting events.

“Small gatherings to not be undertaken without consulting the Ministry of Health,” the office said in a statement issued on Monday.

With the exception of higher learning institutions, the government decided to close all schools in Ethiopia.

“The Ministry of Science and Higher Learning will be delivering course content online with students remaining in university campuses and their dorms,” the PM office said.

The office also told religious institutions and places of worship to limit gatherings while ordering national hygiene and preventive measures movement to be launched and cascaded throughout government institutions with uptake in non-government institutions and the public.

The government will soon start to allocate budget for the distribution of masks, soap, alcohol solutions and other preventive materials in critical locations.

It will also make government buses available free of charge to the public to limit overcrowding in the public transport system in the country.

The statement also says the ministry of Trade and Industry is now tasked “to monitor and act against businesses unnecessarily increasing prices on consumer goods”.

Preventive measures to be undertaken in elderly care facilities with close monitoring by the Ministry of Health, according to the PM office.

The Prime Minister “calls upon all to maintain calm and equip themselves with accurate information from the Ministry of Health” during his televised speech on Monday.

He also strongly advised citizens “to maintain strong hand hygiene and avoiding unnecessary physical contact in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines”.

– Request for compassion –

On Monday, religious leaders, during a presser organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, have called for Ethiopians to help each other in this tiring time.

While praying God’s mercy, they also have requested Ethiopians to be softhearted and refrain from evil deeds when conducting religious services.

“We can’t pass this risky time with only science, it needs strong religious prayer,” said Mufti Omar, Islamic Affairs Supreme Council President.

The majority of the public doesn’t have the resources including water and sanitization equipment, said Mufti, requesting the public to be more generous.

Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia also issued an eight-point statement urging the government “to be watchful against every situation that might exacerbate the condition with a strong sense of leadership”.

It further requested every concerned figure to play a crucial role in all possibilities and the public not be panic at all.

[Image MICHAEL TEWELDE]

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