COVID-19 pandemic in Somalia

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COVID-19 pandemic in Somalia
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakChina
Arrival date16 March 2020
(2 months, 1 week and 3 days)
Confirmed cases1,689 (as of 26 May)[1]
Active cases1,388 (as of 26 May)
Recovered235 (as of 26 May)
66 (as of 26 May)
Government website

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Somalia on 16 March 2020 when the first case was confirmed in Mogadishu.[2] 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.[3] It has also been speculated that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed may use the pandemic as an excuse to postpone elelctions.[4] There have also been concerns over freedom of the press following arrests and intimidation of journalist who have been covering the pandemic in Somalia.[5]


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.[6][7] Some rural areas in the South are dominated by the terrorist group Al-Shabab, which has a history of disrupting humanitarian work.[8] It faces widespread poverty and hunger, leaving people vulnerable to an outbreak.[8]

Somalia's healthcare infrastructure is weak;[2][6] it ranks 194th out of 195 in the Global Health Security Index.[8] The country has less than 20 ICU beds available.[8] One modern hospital with ventilators in Mogadishu is closed due to a political dispute.[9]



On 16 March, the first case in Somalia was confirmed.[10] Somalia's Health Ministry reported that a Somali citizen was returning home from China.[11]


On 7 April, the government reported the eighth confirmed case, a 58-year-old Somali man with no travel history.[12]

On 8 April, the government confirmed the first death.[13]

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.[14] He was the country's second reported fatality due to COVID-19.[15][16][17]

On 14 April, 35 new cases were confirmed, 32 from Mogadishu, 2 from Hargeisa and 1 from Borama.[citation needed]

On 16 April, 20 more cases and 3 deaths were confirmed in Somalia.[citation needed]

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.[18](registration required)

On 25 April, there were 390 confirmed cases and 18 deaths.[19]


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.[20]


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.[21] Muslim clerics have worked to dispel myths about the virus.[9] Some journalists have been arrested for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus pandemic.[22][23]

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.[24]

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.[6] However, people continued to gather in crowded areas, with a Mogadishu resident saying, "It is as though the schools were closed for public holiday."[9]

The Somali Aviation Ministry ordered a suspension of all international flights for 15 days starting from Wednesday, 18 March,[11] with the possibility of exceptions for humanitarian flights.[2] The suspension affected khat imports from Kenya, leading to economic difficulties for khat sellers in Somalia and growers in Kenya.[25] Also on 18 March, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced $5 million had been allocated to address the pandemic.[6]

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.[6]

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.[8]

Twenty volunteer doctors from Somali National University went to Italy to help fight the outbreak there.[26]



Somalia lacks testing capacity, so test samples must be sent abroad for processing, which delays results.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ moh. "COVID-19". MOH. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Somalia Confirms First Case of Coronavirus | Voice of America - English". VOA News. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Coronavirus pandemic: Experts say Somalia risk greater than China". Al Jazeera News. 19 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Law on Farmajo's side should he delay elections". The East African. 11 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Somali Journalists Arrested, Intimidated While Covering COVID-19". Vpoce of Africa. 18 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Mohamed, Hamza (19 March 2020). "Coronavirus pandemic: Experts say Somalia risk greater than China". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  7. ^ Robinson, Colin (7 November 2019). "State-Level Military Forces Can Potentially Turn Tide in War Against al-Shabaab".
  8. ^ a b c d e f "In Somalia, coronavirus goes from fairy tale to nightmare". Associated Press. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Hujale, Moulid (22 April 2020). "Ramadan in Somalia: fears coronavirus cases will climb as gatherings continue". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Coronavirus Update (Live) - Worldometer".
  11. ^ a b "Somalia, Tanzania confirm first coronavirus cases". Anadolu Agency. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Coronavirus - Somalia: 8th case of Coronavirus confirmed in Somalia". CNBC Africa. 7 April 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Somalia has registered first death from coronavirus: health minister". Reuters. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Somali state minister dies of coronavirus in Mogadishu". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Somali state minister dies from coronavirus". Al Jazeera English. 12 April 2020. Archived from the original on 20 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  16. ^ Khalif, Abdulkadir (12 April 2020). "Somalia minister succumbs to coronavirus". Daily Nation. Archived from the original on 20 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Regional presidents, Speaker Quaratined over Coronavirus Fears". Garowe Online. 14 April 2020. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  19. ^ COVID19, Somalia (25 April 2020). "62 new cases tested positive today for #COVID19. 2 people died and 2 recovered. The total cases in the country is: 390Total of deaths is: 18". @SomaliaCovid19. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  20. ^ Jason Burke; Abdalle Ahmed Mumin (2 May 2020). "Somali medics report rapid rise in deaths as Covid-19 fears grow". The Guardian.
  21. ^ Bearak, Max. "Africa's most vulnerable countries have few ventilators — or none at all". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Somali Journalists Arrested, Intimidated While Covering COVID-19". VOA News. 18 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Somalia: Spate of Arrests, Intimidation of Journalists". Human Rights Watch. 2 May 2020.
  24. ^ "COVID-19: Somalia bans entry from worst-hit countries". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Coronavirus Hits Somalia's Khat Sellers | Voice of America - English". Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  26. ^ "Somalia sending 20 doctors to help Italy fight virus". 27 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.