ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia on Monday closed schools across the country and banned all public gatherings, including sports events, for 15 days.
The decision was announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after consultations with top officials on measures to avert a COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
In a televised message, the premier said the steps were necessary after four new cases were confirmed in Ethiopia over the past 24 hours, raising the total to five.
Among the new cases are two Japanese and an Ethiopian national who had been in contact with the country’s first patient, a 48-year-old Japanese citizen.
The fourth case was an Ethiopian man who recently returned from Dubai.
Ahmed said his government was making efforts to provide protective face masks, medical kits, and disinfectants, including sanitizers, for the public.
He announced that government vehicles would be used for public transport to ease the burden on the existing system.
With only primary and secondary schools being closed for now, Abiy said that university students would be provided all essential care at their respective campuses.
After emerging in Wuhan, China, last December, the coronavirus has now spread to at least 146 countries and territories, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The global death toll is nearly 6,500, with around 165,000 confirmed cases.
While the WHO recently declared the global outbreak a pandemic, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation was controllable.
In his remarks at a March 3 briefing on COVID-19, Tedros also pointed out that the mortality rate from the virus was around 3.4%.