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Former Somalia's PM diagnosed with Covid-19, hospitalised in London

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

LONDON, UK - Former Somalia's Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein alias [Nur Adde] tested positive for COVID-19, officials confirmed and has since been hospitalized in London.

The coronavirus pandemic has grounded economic activities across the world since its outbreak in December in China, leading to unprecedented curfews around the world.

And Adde, 83, becomes the first high profile figure from Africa to contract the virus, with reports indicating that he's battling the disease at a London hospital, after being positively diagnosed.

Hassan Ali Khaire, the current Somalia Prime Minister, confirmed the rather tragic news on Thursday, although he did not divulge to finer details about the health progress of the former leader.

“I pray to God to grant former Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein (Nur Adde), who is ill at a London hospital, quick recovery,” Kheire said in a tweet, Thursday.

Nur Adde served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2009 under the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, whose leader was Aden Madobe. The team would handover to President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in 2009.

Reports about his deteriorating health come after Somalia announced the third positive case for COVID-19, with the most recent victim being a UN employee in Mogadishu, authorities said.

On Thursday, the country's health minister Dr. Fawziya Abikar confirmed the second case, with the disease ravaging virtually all 195 countries around the world.

The UN employee was a commercial contractor who has been in quarantine for the last eight days. Officials are tracing people who had been in direct contact with him, UN said.

While terming the COVID-19 pandemic "serious", the UN said it has "prepared to operate, medical and support procedures for the possibility of such an incident occurring." It added, "Our priorities are the care of the contractor and to prevent the further spread of the virus."

The UN, through the local office of the World Health Organization (WHO), has been working with the Somali authorities to prepare the country’s health systems to contain and mitigate any outbreak of the pandemic in Somalia.

By Thursday, the disease had slightly infected over half a million people around the globe with over 24,000 deaths recorded. But a significant number, 125,000, has reportedly recovered.

Somalia's neighbor, Kenya, registered the first death related to COVID-19 on Thursday, with the number of infections rising to 31. However, three people have recovered, officials said.

Italy is the worst affected, with the deaths currently standing at over 8,000. China, which was first to record the cases, has seen it's the rate of infection drastically reduce, while America joins the countries that could be the new epicenter.

To mitigate the crisis, Somalia had suspended commercial flights, huge gatherings and even imposed a ban on khat besides suspending learning activities, officials said.