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

Djibouti’s “Return to Normal”

Djibouti will begin “unlocking the country” in one of the most recent examples of a nation relaxing quarantine measures over social fatigue and economic distress rather than victory over the virus. For example, South Sudan is executing a similar relaxation despite a more than ten-fold rise in confirmed cases.

The incremental measures will include the resumption of public transport and re-opening of religious houses of worship.

The move may be an inevitable capitulation by the government in the face of a population that was simply not following social distancing guidelines. Via RFI:

People still continue to walk and shop at crowded markets in Djibouti, also the name of the capital city, and few are wearing masks, according to Agence France Presse.

Somalia’s Double Crisis

More than 280,000 people have been displaced by seasonal flooding in Somalia, with Hirshabelle, Jubaland, and Southwest regions accounting for 88% of those impacted.

At the same time, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise faster than other east African countries, and Somali officials with dual passports are facing criticism for leaving the country in face of the challenge.

Somalia has carried out approximately 1,238 tests in domestic labs, but it has the same number of confirmed cases (1,284) as Djibouti, which has carried out over 16,600 tests.

Meanwhile al-Shabaab has set up a committee of doctors, intellectuals, and elders to address the potential spread of the virus in areas of its control, but it is unclear if the terrorist group has been able to acquire testing kits or machines to understand community transmission in any meaningful way.

To date, al-Shabaab has blamed “infidels” for the virus and claimed that prayers are more effective than modern technology in fighting the pandemic.

Updates in Kenya

Similar to Somalia, there have been at least 237 people that have perished and approximately 300,000 others displaced due to recent flash floods.

In addition, the coronavirus lockdown in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi, which has prohibited most residents from entering or leaving the area, has led to a troubling combination of protests, rising commodity prices, and requests for government aid.

Lastly, Kenya and Uganda have recently announced more coronavirus cases among Tanzanians than Tanzania’s own national government.

Apart from an announcement from the Zanzibari government, Tanzania has ceased publishing any new cases following a leadership shuffle and testing row in the national laboratory.

Nevertheless, Uganda and Kenya have continued to identify Tanzanian truck drivers who have tested positive for the virus, as each nation carries out a robust testing program at border points.

On May 13, Kenya turned back 23 Tanzanian truck drivers at the Namanga border point after they received positive test results. On the same day, Uganda announced an additional positive test from a Tanzanian truck driver at the Mutukula border point.


Categories: Around the Horn, Coronavirus

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