ADDIS ABEBA – Government officials have urged Ethiopians to continue their contribution for a fund set up to fight the spread of coronavirus after the fund raised so far reached 150 million birr landmark.
The COVID-19 National Resource Mobilization Committee was launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday in Ethiopia, where there are currently 25 reported cases.
Over the past five days, the committee announced 150 million Birr has been mobilized locally. The amount does not include the in-kind support of medical supplies.
On Tuesday alone, various companies, businesses and individuals have donated close to 60 million birr.
Many more people also have handed over their houses and buildings to be used in the COVID-19 response.
More than 241,000 people contributed 2.7 million Birr through Ethio Telecom SMS service locally.
“This is a clear demonstration of #MEDEMER in action, with Ethiopians from all walks of stating that we stand united through adversity,” said prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
– Call for more –
The fund would be key in getting the nation ready for wants to come, according to Demeke Mekonen, Deputy prime minister of Ethiopia.
“We are encouraged and proud by the efforts from Ethiopians, both here and in the diaspora, to contribute to COVID-19 response,” Demeke said.
“We want this to continue,” he said, urging for people that are engaged in similar tasks individually to stop.
The Mobilization Committee is tasked with gathering funds and materials to assist with emergency preparations to fight the pandemic in Africa’s second-most populous nation, with over 100 million inhabitants.
Apart from fundraising, Demeke said the government is working on strengthening the food system while advising businesses to refrain from hoarding or increase the prices on essential items.
– Advice for the Public –
In a speech he made after a high level national COVID-19 Ministerial committee met with the Prime Minister to determine if additional assignments are required, Demeke urged Ethiopians to strictly adhere to health advice.
He particularly mentioned the high risks in the fruit market located in central Addis Ababa and the transport system of the city.
“We are all in this together and have a part in the effort to contain the virus,” he said. “I urge people to stick with what health officials said and practice social distancing.”
The Office of the Prime Minister also said COVID-19 prevention and containment efforts have progressed with incremental actions through each of the sub-committees, said
However, based on city-wide observation missions undertaken by members of the committee, social distancing within market areas and transport systems, as well as continued religious gatherings, still remain a containment challenge, it said.
While attempts to raise awareness will continue together with law enforcement measures, members of the public are asked to strictly adhere to all cautionary advice in relation to the virus, according to the PM Office.
Image: A volunteer provides hand sanitizer to passengers entering a bus as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus in the capital Addis Ababa AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene]