495 views | Akanimo Sampson | April 15, 2020
Ethiopia is facing ‘’strengthening measures’’ to curb the rampaging global coronavirus pandemic.
The unexpected arrival of more than 5,000 migrant returnees to the country over the past two weeks without prior health screenings is already adding to the challenges of Ethiopia.
This is happening as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as at 11:00 pm on April 14, says the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Nigeria has climbed to 373.
Interestingly, 99 patients have been treated and discharged with the number of deaths recorded up by one. By this development, the death toll in Nigeria as at Tuesday night is now 11.
NCDC says 11 new cases were also reported in Lagos State. This is in addition to the 30 fresh cases reported earlier in the day from five states of the federation.
The states and their respective figures, according to NCDC, are Lagos – 25; FCT – two; Akwa Ibom – one; Edo – one; and Kano – one.”We need the compliance of #Nigerians with laid down recommendations to ensure our strategy for COVID19 control effective”, the agency adds.
In the meantime, the United Nations is calling for a temporary suspension of flights to give Ethiopian authorities time to safely organise the migrants’ repatriation.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Ethiopia Chief of Mission, Maureen Achieng, says “cooperation and open dialogue between border management agencies is critical at this time to ensure everything is being done to halt the spread of COVID-19 and that the movements of people are safe, orderly and regular.
“Pre-departure health screenings that are in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommended best practices are a key aspect of a unified approach to dealing with the pandemic”
Last week, IOM and other development partners, working with Dire Dawa city administration, received 2,019 Ethiopian returnees from Djibouti who came through the Dewale border entry point.
Another group of 331 arrived at Moyale entry point from Kenya, with a significant number of infants, children and pregnant and lactating women.
Close to 2,900 returnees have arrived in Addis Ababa from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the enactment of mandatory quarantine, with an average of 250 returns planned every day in the coming weeks.
Ongoing negotiations between the two countries are likely to temporarily put these movements on hold.
These returns are occurring at a time IOM had scaled down Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) movements due to increased risk of transmission of the coronavirus disease.
Ethiopia recorded its first COVID-19 case on March 13 and the latest update issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), on April 13, confirms 74 cases and two fatalities.
A nationwide state of emergency was declared last Wednesday, buttressing a series of enforcement measures announced last month.
These include the closing of schools, bars and nightclubs, regulations on large gatherings and physical distancing, closing land borders, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving passengers at hotels, and at designated facilities for deportees.
The government, working with partners, is also preparing 30 quarantine sites to cater for the returnees, and since last week IOM is assisting to make the four in Addis Ababa ready to host returnees.
The arrivals from Djibouti are now accommodated at the University of Dire Dawa, which has been dedicated as a 14-day isolation facility. They were screened for COVID -19 by the Health Bureau, with six suspected individuals now quarantined.
Head of the IOM sub-office in Dire Dawa, Aaron Manyumbu, says “we provided food and palatable bottled water for the first four days, hand washing facilities, and sanitary pads for women. IOM will continue to provide bottled water, hygiene kits (clothes inclusive), and onward transportation to respective regions until the end of the 14 days of isolation.”
Arrivals from Saudi Arabia are currently housed at Addis Ababa Science and Technology University quarantine centre, where IOM donated 2,000 blankets, 1,500-bed sheets and 720 packets of soap.
Working with the government and other partners, IOM will continue to provide support at the site, including registering arrivals and identifying vulnerable returnees, such as unaccompanied migrant children, for further assistance after quarantine.