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Second minister succumbs to COVID-19 in Somalia's Puntland

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

GAROWE, Puntland - A senior minister in the government of President Said Abdullahi Deni succumbed to the novel Coronavirus at Garowe, the regional administrative capital of Puntland state, officials said, becoming the second high profile official to die of the disease since it was first detected within the region in April.

Mohamed Hassan Isse, who until his death was a minister state for Puntland presidency, developed breathing difficulties a few days ago while staying with his family before he tested positive for COVID-19 at Garowe Hospital following robust tests by the medical team in the facility.

But even before arrangements were made to have him flown to the Somalia capital Mogadishu for further treatment, the minister died in the facility, officials said. The family said the minister had been in good health until last week where he started developing breathing difficulties.

In a statement, Puntland Vice President Ahmed Elmi Osman Karaash mourned with the family of the deceased while acknowledging his significant contributions to the people of Puntland, a federal-state which was first formed in 1998 after years of political turmoil in Somalia.

The Vice President has been in charge of the state following President Said Abdullahi Deni's state visit to Djibouti where he has been signing trade deals. The president is also expected in the United Arab Emirates over the delayed construction of the Bosaso modern port which freight company DP-World had pledged to work on.

"We are saddened with the death of Mohamed Hassan Isse, one of the state ministers. His death comes at the time we are struggling with the novel Coronavirus pandemic. On behalf of Somalis and the people of Puntland, we send our heartfelt condolences to the affected family," read the statement.

"We are encouraged by his contributions to the people of Puntland given his commitment to making the government even stronger. He will be dearly missed in the cabinet where his contributions were always masterclass and logical all the time."

Before joining politics in 2019, Mohamed Hassan Isse was a renowned humanitarian worker in Somalia where he worked with different organizations. His political network was created during his time at the humanitarian team where he aided international organizations to penetrate the country.

He's the second high profile minister from Puntland to succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May this year, Ismail Gama'did, minister for Agriculture, died also after contracting the virus, which is now widely spread across Somalia and other parts of the world.

To date, Somalia has recorded close to 3,500 positive COVID-19 cases with dozens of recoveries but unfortunately, over 93 people have since died. However, the figure of the infected could be significantly high due to the fact that the testing capability of the country is below standard, with the health infrastructure being almost dysfunctional.

Elsewhere, a Kenyan journalist who was arrested in Ethiopia following nationwide protests has also tested positive for COVID-19, his lawyer Abdullatif Amee says. Authorities in Addis Ababa have since made arrangements to have him appearing in court after details of his health status emerged.

Yasin Juma was arrested in July following protests which erupted after the assassination of Hachalu Hundesa, a popular Oromo singer in Ethiopia. Despite the court ordering for his release on bail, police have kept holding him in prison, something which has attracted retribution from the international community.


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