East Africa Coronavirus Roundup: April 30, 2020


The US military base in Djibouti is on lockdown after a second case of coronavirus was confirmed (via RFI):

Camp Lemonnier, which provides the US military with a strategic foothold in east Africa, will go on indefinite lockdown to prevent further spread of Covid-19. A second sick contractor tested positive and was evacuated from Djibouti, prompting the lockdown of the base, reported Stars and Stripes newspaper


Somalia announced 19 new coronavirus cases, including 18 in Mogadishu and 1 in the Southwest region. While there were reports that Jubaland’s deputy agriculture minister tested positive, there were no reported cases from Jubaland in the federal government’s tally from April 29 or April 30.

The country is still far behind its neighbors in terms of total testing, which remains around 764 tests. That equates to .05 tests per 1000 people, assuming a population of 15 million.

As if these challenges were not enough, Somalia is simultaneously addressing the humanitarian impact of seasonal flooding that has devastated parts of Puntland in the north and is threatening other areas in southern Somalia such as Bardheere.


The 2020 Tax (Amendments) Bill that President Uhuru Kenyatta recently signed into law bars companies from firing workers or coercing employees to take salary cuts if it is due to the pandemic (via Daily Nation):

“Where the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the ability of an employer to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss an employee or coerce an employee to take a salary cut,” reads the law.

While it is unclear how the country will enforce the measure, it was probably intended to address rising unemployment figures that have reached over 130,000.

Kenya is also facing challenges in testing because its main research lab lacks proper resources (via The Star):

The country has run out of essential screening and testing equipment even as the government projects a worst-case scenario of as many as 30,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Currently, an average of only about 700 samples are tested per day against the capacity of 37,000. This is attributed to the shortage of reagents and consumables, equipment health and the capacity of health workers to collect such a large number of samples every day.

The country is currently using the automated testing equipment – COBAS 8800. Only seven of such equipment are available in the country, with five stationed at Kemri.

“Kemri is in the process of developing a Point of Care Test (PoCT) diagnostic kit. The kit will be easy to use, easily deployable to health facilities including those in remote lower level laboratories and cheaper than rRT-PCR,” Kombe said.

A bright spot: This Young Kenyan Designer Is Making Masks for East Africa’s Largest Informal Settlement (via Vogue)

Avido is known for his signature wax print bomber jackets and has made custom designs for reggae stars such as the rising Jamaican singer Koffee. But lately his working routine has taken a backseat to a new mission: leading a team of 12 to produce free masks for local distribution, a protective measure against the novel coronavirus that is creeping into Kenya. So far, about 10,000 masks have been handed out in small batches by friends and community leaders who had heard about the initiative either through Avido or the Uweza Foundation, a non-profit providing skills training for the local community.


Via AfricaNews:

The total laboratory tests conducted within twenty-four hours are 1,408; of this one (1) of them is confirmed positive for COVID-19 and the total confirmed cases as of today are 131. The tests were conducted by The Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute, International Clinical Laboratories, Tigray Health Research Institute, Amhara Public Health Institute, Adams Public Health Research and Referral Laboratory, Arsi University laboratory and Jigjiga University Laboratory. Furthermore, one person (from Addis Ababa) recovered from the disease that makes the total number of recoveries fifty-nine (59). 


(Note: Tanzania did not provide any new coronavirus updates for April 30 by the time this piece was posted.)

Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira has become the first high profile Tanzanian official to teste positive for coronavirus (via The Citizen). Meanwhile, opposition parties have accused the government of hiding the truth about how widely the virus has spread in the country. Similar to the rumor mill in Somalia, grave sites and funerals have become the venue for speculation about uncounted coronavirus deaths. Via AFP:

“We see people dying and their burials are supervised by the government under strict conditions but yet it is not telling us they died of coronavirus. There is no transparency and when people have no information, you provide room for rumours.” -Freeman Mbowe, of the opposition Chadema party

The Tanzanian government has taken harsh measures against those who criticized its response or doubted its data behind the outbreak (via Bloomberg):

…police this week arrested several people for speaking about the outbreak without government authorization…Among those arrested was Albert Msando, a prominent lawyer based in the tourist city of Arusha, for saying that Tanzania is “in a bad situation,” according to the city’s acting police chief, Koka Moita.


Via Daily Monitor:

Two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Uganda, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 81. Both cases are male; a 24-year-old Ugandan and a 21-year-old Burundian refugee.

The new cases are contacts to a confirmed Burundian refugee case, according to Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general [of] health services. “They are under quarantine at Rakai hospital,” he said. Meanwhile, all 1,703 samples from truck drivers at border points of entry tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday.

Categories: Around the Horn, Coronavirus

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2 replies

  1. I much appreciate getting reliable figures for the extent of the pandemic in E. Africa. Keep it up!
    Dr Roland Minor

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