ADDIS ABABA – At least 19 billion birr (approx. $475mln) is needed to buy medical equipment and improve health facilities to curb the spread of coronavirus, said finance ministry.
The fund is needed to acquire medical supplies such as face masks and test kits, and prepare facilities including isolation centers, said Eyob Tekalgn, State Minister of finance, in an interview with state-run Addis Zemen.
Health experts say the infection rate in Ethiopia is low like many African countries but fear it may grow exponentially.
The virus (COVID-19) has so far infected 56 people and killed two Ethiopians forcing the government to take several curfews.
It has also led to the suspension of international passenger travel and hit tourism and service sectors.
Eyob said the virus is disrupting the world economy. “Economies like Ethiopia could particularly be hit hard by its impact,” he said.
He said, if the impact of the pandemic gets worst, the country may need additional funds to finance food and other essential items’ provision to the people.
“Ethiopians need be ready to help each other more than ever,” the state minister said.
The government has received millions of birr donations – both in-kind and money – from the public in support of its effort to contain the virus.
“I really appreciate the citizens of Ethiopia in what they are doing… and standing with the government in the fight against the virus,” he said, “This kind of acts must continue”.