East Africa records surge in coronavirus infections

Tuesday March 24 2020

People line up to wash their hands as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 before entering a bus park in Kampala. PHOTO | AFP


East Africa countries continue to register a surge in the number of people affected by coronavirus as the pandemic continues to cause havoc across the globe.

Besides Kenya, across the border, Uganda registered its first case on Sunday, while the number of those infected in Rwanda and Ethiopia have already hit the double digit figure.

As at 4pm yesterday, the figures in Rwanda stood at 17, Ethiopia 11, and Tanzania six cases, according to the the World Health Organization (WHO).


Tanzania held a national prayer day in the face of coronavirus Sunday and Uganda on Saturday.

Besides seeking divine intervention, the East Africa countries in their individual capacities have also outlined various measures to ensure the virus is kept at bay and numbers of those affected remain low.
After registering its first case, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that starting Monday, no person will be allowed to enter the country.


“We have decided to prohibit all passenger planes coming from outside Uganda from landing at any of the airports in the country. Only cargo planes will be allowed to fly in and out,” President Museveni said in a televised address to the nation aired on NTV-Uganda.

The patient in Uganda is a 36-year-old Ugandan male, who arrived from Dubai on Saturday aboard Ethiopian airline. It is reported he left Uganda on March 17 to Dubai for business.

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Further, President Museveni ordered that no Ugandan or foreign national be allowed to enter country through its land or sea entry ports, except for cargo truck drivers whose crew members should not exceed three people.


In Rwanda, the government, on Saturday, outlined strict measures to contain the spread of the virus including a two-week total lockdown that only excludes emergency services.

Earlier measures include closure of all schools and religious institutions. It also banned social gatherings such as weddings and parties.

Rwandan Prime Minister Ngirente Edouard said local government institutions and security organs have been tasked with ensuring the outlined measures are adhered to.

“Heightened vigilance, discipline and co-operation are required from all of us in the weeks ahead. Let us work together to rein in this virus,” he said.

Globally Covid-19 has infected 308,609 people and led to at least 13,000 deaths, with Europe being the worst affected. African numbers have surpassed 1,000.

Meanwhile, Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma sent the first diagnostics and infection prevention control materials to help fight the ongoing #Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

The materials include 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 protective suits to be distributed throughout Africa.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said distribution of the donation to other countries begins today.

He said Ethiopian Airlines will deliver the test kits and protective equipment to all African countries

Jack Ma said he would donate 500,000 testing kits and one million face masks to the US.

Keeping social distance of at least one metre and avoiding shaking hands in addition to basic hygiene, like washing hands, are some of the guidelines the WHO released to keep the killer virus at bay.