Coronavirus: Ethiopia Situation Update

1 May 2020

Ethiopia confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Friday 13th February. As we go to press (1st May), 18,754 laboratory tests have been conducted and the total number of positive cases has risen to 133, 66 of whom have recovered, and three have died.

Since the beginning of the crisis, Ethiopia has focused its strategy on the need for proactive interventions to curb the potential spread of the virus, while putting in place the necessary infrastructure to ensure critical preparedness and capacity within the Health sector.

The first round of actions that the government took included:- the allocation of an emergency budget; the mandatory quarantining, for 14 days, of all travellers arriving into Ethiopia; the closure of schools; limiting the majority of the Federal workforce to working from home; the postponement of large public gatherings, including sporting events; releasing prisoners who had committed minor crimes and those whose probationary period was nearing its end; the closure of all bars and nightclubs and the expansion of public information and media campaigns to raise Coronavirus awareness.

However, relying on the above measures alone will not prevent further spread of the virus. As time goes by, the number of cases continues to rise, other vigorous decisions needed to be made. The government Cabinet decided to decree a State of Emergency that will last for five months. The purpose of the emergency decree is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and control and minimize the damage it causes. When the Prime Minister announced the Government’s decision to declare the State of Emergency, he described it as one made “in the interest of safeguarding current and future generations.”

Following its approval by the Council of Ministers, Proclamation 3/2020, also known as the “State of Emergency Proclamation Enacted to Counter and Control the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate its Impact”, made its passage through the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Friday 10th  April. It was also announced that the State of Emergency, and the associated measures for its implementation, could be revised at any point by the Council of Ministers, based on the prevailing circumstances at the time.

To mitigate the adverse economic impact of COVID-19, the government has given critical attention to taking measures which will help protect employment and income, scaling up safety-net programmes to the most vulnerable, maintaining the supply chain of basic commodities, and providing support to producers. To sustain food security, the government is working to ensure agricultural productivity by providing uninterrupted supplies of fertilizers, improved seeds, and pesticides.

The Government has also launched a nationwide resource mobilization campaign, asking Ethiopians to help out in any way they can. An appeal has also been made to the diaspora and the rest of the international community to reach out at this critical time and provide support. The diaspora community are providing assistance through donations and in various other forms, such as medical support.

Although many Ethiopians at home and members of the Ethiopian Diaspora have begun to heed the call of the National Appeal, the task of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak entails further efforts and continued engagements.

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