Somalia registers first coronavirus case

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Health minister

By AFP

Somalia on Monday became the latest East African country to confirm its first case of coronavirus, as neighbouring countries shuttered borders and schools as fears of contagion rose.

Somalia announced a ban on international flights in and out of the country, starting from Wednesday.

The government had quarantined four Somalis as a precaution after they arrived from countries with coronavirus outbreaks, and one had subsequently tested positive.

Victoria University

“None of the quarantined individuals had shown symptoms so far, and look healthy, but the virus is present in the body of this individual,” Health Minister Fowzia Abikar Nur said in a televised address.

The travel ban will extend to cargo flights but exclude humanitarian ones, Aviation and Transport Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omar said.

Regional clampdown

The announcements from Tanzania and Somalia came as Rwanda confirmed four more cases of the virus, after reporting its first on Saturday.

According to a health ministry statement, the new cases include a 30-year-old Rwandan man “in Kigali with no travel history”.

There is also a 34-year-old Rwandan man who arrived from South Sudan on March 6 and his brother who arrived from Fiji via the US and Qatar on March 8.

The fourth patient is a 22-year-old Ugandan who arrived from London on March 15. They are all under treatment, isolated from other patients.

Rwanda has shut schools and churches for two weeks and banned concerts and large gatherings. Its national airline Rwandair has cancelled its flights to India, Israel and China.

Ethiopia introduced its own raft of fresh restrictions Monday, closing schools and suspending large gatherings like sporting events. The country, the most populous in the region with 100 million people, has five confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Mauritius, meanwhile, a smattering of islands in the Indian Ocean dependent on tourism, announced it would deny entry to anyone who had visited the EU, Switzerland or Britain in the past 14 days.

Previously, the restriction only applied to those who had visited China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong.

It has not recorded any positive cases so far.

“Our country is a tourist destination. Thousands of foreigners come to and transit through Mauritius. We are very exposed,” said Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

There are now 17 confirmed cases across six countries in East Africa.

Kenya, which has three cases, on Sunday announced strict measures including blocking entry to foreigners who do not have a valid resident permit and are coming from a country with a confirmed case.

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