COVID-19 pandemic in Somalia
|COVID-19 pandemic in Somalia|
|Arrival date||16 March 2020|
(2 months, 1 week and 3 days)
|Confirmed cases||1,689 (as of 26 May)|
|Active cases||1,388 (as of 26 May)|
|Recovered||235 (as of 26 May)|
|66 (as of 26 May)|
The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Somalia on 16 March 2020 when the first case was confirmed in Mogadishu. The Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire announced that the government has set aside five million dollars to deal with the disease, The Somali Medical Association is concerned that the death toll in the country will be huge and that Somalia will not be able to recover from the economic effects due to poor working relations between central government and federal states which leads to lack of control by central government, as well and the lack of healthcare infrastructure. It has also been speculated that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed may use the pandemic as an excuse to postpone elelctions. There have also been concerns over freedom of the press following arrests and intimidation of journalist who have been covering the pandemic in Somalia.
Somalia is in a state of protracted military conflict; the central government lacks control over large parts of the country, and is at odds with several of the regional governments. Some rural areas in the South are dominated by the terrorist group Al-Shabab, which has a history of disrupting humanitarian work. It faces widespread poverty and hunger, leaving people vulnerable to an outbreak.
Somalia's healthcare infrastructure is weak; it ranks 194th out of 195 in the Global Health Security Index. The country has less than 20 ICU beds available. One modern hospital with ventilators in Mogadishu is closed due to a political dispute.
On 7 April, the government reported the eighth confirmed case, a 58-year-old Somali man with no travel history.
On 8 April, the government confirmed the first death.
On 12 April, Somalia confirmed its second death from coronavirus on Sunday, Khalif Mumin Tohow, justice minister of Hirshabelle state, succumbed in Mogadishu's Martini hospital a day after he tested positive in Jowhar. He was the country's second reported fatality due to COVID-19.
On 17 April, the Somali Minister of Health, Dr Fowysia Abikar Nur, said that 36 more cases tested positive (27 male, remainder female; 30 among the ages between 20 and 39 years (83%), and 6 among them aged between 40 and 59 years (14%)). Thus the total confirmed case number reached 116, and one more person had died.(registration required)
On 25 April, there were 390 confirmed cases and 18 deaths.
On 2 May, there were 601 confirmed cases and 28 deaths, although it was reported that the actual number of deaths may be significantly higher.
The government formed a task force to respond to COVID-19. Officials have had trouble obtaining medical equipment, but did successfully order some ventilators and ICU beds. Muslim clerics have worked to dispel myths about the virus. Some journalists have been arrested for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus pandemic.
On 15 March, the government banned passengers who had been to China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea in the past 14 days from entering Somalia. At that time the government had quarantined four people.
On 17 March, the government announced that schools and universities would be closed for 15 days effective from 19 March and that large gatherings were prohibited. However, people continued to gather in crowded areas, with a Mogadishu resident saying, "It is as though the schools were closed for public holiday."
The Somali Aviation Ministry ordered a suspension of all international flights for 15 days starting from Wednesday, 18 March, with the possibility of exceptions for humanitarian flights. The suspension affected khat imports from Kenya, leading to economic difficulties for khat sellers in Somalia and growers in Kenya. Also on 18 March, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced $5 million had been allocated to address the pandemic.
Mohamed Mohamud Ali, chairman of Somali Medical Association, warned that the virus could kill many more people in Somalia than in China or Iran, because there are no testing kits in the country, and patients have to wait at least three days to get results from South Africa.
Al-Shabab leaders met to discuss COVID-19. Ahmed Khalif of Action Against Hunger warned that the extremist group has a history of blocking access for humanitarian workers, but may allow people to go elsewhere for treatment.
Somalia lacks testing capacity, so test samples must be sent abroad for processing, which delays results.
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