Somalia Gets Ventilators, Kenya Mass Tests in Poor Areas, and More East Africa Updates

May 4


As of May 4, Djibouti has confirmed 1,116 positive coronavirus cases from 14,222 tests.


Journalism on the coronavirus in Somalia continues to explore the operational tempo of grave sites and ambulance drivers as a means to understand the actual spread of the virus given insufficient testing.

Via the Guardian:

Dahir Mohamud, a funeral worker at Geed-Timir graveyard in Mogadishu, said he had dealt with more than 30 bodies in under five days, 10 times the usual number. Almost all were elderly men who died after a short illness. Abdullahi Mohamed Jama, a gravedigger in Mogadishu’s Calamada graveyard, said his team dug 21 to 22 graves on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday last week, around four times the usual total.

“Previously we used to dig graves on demand. These days we don’t wait for calls because there are many deaths every day. All these deaths are illness-related and they are elderly people. It is very sensitive to talk about Covid-19 and relatives will only tell us it is urgent death,” Abdullahi Dhere said.

Turkey has also shipped 10 ventilators, 20,000 testing kits, and other equipment in a second mass shipment to Mogadishu.

Between China and Turkey, there have been at least 40,000 testing kits sent to Somalia. But, as of May 4, only 741 tests have been conducted inside Somalia because the country lacks the means to conduct mass testing.

This opens the door for corruption and embezzlement of resources meant to fight the pandemic.

Consider this:

If donors are sending thousands of testing kits that Somalia cannot use, where do foreign partners think the kits are going?

While it is certainly good public relations to display gigantic crates of aid arriving at Mogadishu International Airport, the inability for Somali officials to use these resources and the lack of accountability behind where this aid is going risks fueling corruption.


Kenya deserves plaudits for making serious efforts to carry out mass testing in low-income areas of Nairobi and Mombasa, which have a higher risk of going under-served as the virus permeates all classes of society.

Kenyan Health Ministry staff began mass coronavirus tests in a low-income neighborhood of Nairobi Friday.
Kawangware, where voluntary testing rolled out, is an area where social distancing can be a challenge, according to Ministry of Health official Lydia Mudeyo.  
“The social distancing in this area is difficult and therefore it is advisable for the government and the ministry as a whole to take the initiative of educating the common mwananchi [referring to an ordinary citizen] on how to do the hand washing and the social distancing and that is why we decided, first of all, to do the mass testing in this area so that it can advise us on the outbreak in this area,” Mudeyp said.

Unfortunately, areas like Mombasa have seen low turnout because residents fear a positive result will force them into government quarantine where they will have to pay for their own upkeep.


Ethiopia has conducted 1,758 tests in the last 24 hours and five samples yielded positive results. Similar to previous reports, three of these five cases reported travel from Puntland, Somalia — which should ring alarm bells in the region.


Tanzanian President John Magufuli has accused the national laboratory of mishandling coronavirus tests after fake samples from fruit and animal specimens received positive tests at the national lab (via The Citizen):

Magufuli noted that recently, his security team sent samples from a bird, pawpaw fruit, jackfruit, goat, sheep, rabbit and oil to the laboratory for tests and the results were shocking.

According to the President, the samples from the pawpaw fruit and goat tested positive for COVID-19 while the remaining samples either turned negative or the results were not conclusive. Magufuli said the samples were labelled with names of people and their ages. He wondered how the researchers couldn’t differentiate the samples from those obtained from human beings.

Following the scandal, Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu fired the national laboratory director and the quality assurance manager.

Equally concerning, Magufuli plans to import an unproven herbal cure promoted by Madascar’s president to use in Tanzania. The response is confounding given that Magufuli himself has a doctorate degree in chemistry.

Tanzania has not announced any new confirmed cases since April 29 when the tally rose to 480.


The Ugandan military confirmed its first case of coronavirus among its troops in Somalia — the first case to be publicized within ranks of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Surprisingly, only nine other soldiers were quarantined after coming into contact with the individual.


Rwanda is slowly relaxing its quarantine measures after a 45-day lockdown. However, buses have been ordered run at 50% capacity, and a result, have hiked their prices to maintain profit lines, which has frustrated some residents.

Locals note it will be difficult to maintain social distancing measures as they seek to return to normal routines.

Categories: Around the Horn, Coronavirus, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

1 reply


  1. Around the Horn: Somalia’s Coronavirus Cases Now Among Highest in East Africa

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