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Somalia announces first COVID-19 recovery amid looming lockdown

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia has announced it's first Coronavirus recovery case, the ministry of health confirmed, as the country races against time to curb the possible spread across the country.

By Friday, three cases of the virus which was first reported in China had been confirmed, triggering a host of stringent regulations from government agencies including suspension of both domestic and international flights.

Dr. Abdullahi Hashi Ali, the Director General, Health, said in a letter addressed to the AMISOM Level II hospital, confirmed that the first four cases which were under tests, had been concluded.

All the four cases tested negative upon strict adherence to World Health Organization standards, including the first patient who had been diagnosed positive of the virus.

Detail from the ministry indicates that the patient, Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, tested negative in the two last tests, thus giving the Horn of Africa nation hope of having future recoveries.

“Therefore, since they completed the quarantine period with negative Lab results, the Ministry of Health has decided to advise the release of the below list of suspected cases with due effect from today March 30th, 2020, as they do not carry any risk of transmission for COVID-19,” the letter reads in part.

The latest report means only two people are battling with Covid-19 in Somalia. The third case which was confirmed on Friday is an employee of the UN and had been under quarantine for eight days, the UN said in a statement.

So far, sixteen suspected cases are being investigated. Of these, two have been quarantined in Somaliland, seven in Puntland and the rest in Mogadishu, Rahman Malik, the WHO top official said.

A total of 31 samples have been collected and shipped to a laboratory in Nairobi for testing. Before the announcement of the recovery, three had tested positive, 18 were negative and the remaining samples are yet to be screened, he added.

Besides the suspension of flights, Mogadishu has also banned mass gatherings across the country with officials also mulling a possible lockdown to contain further spread.

Puntland imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Sunday, in one of the most drastic measures to contain the virus, a replica of Somalia's neighbors, Kenya, which has confirmed 50 positive cases so far.

There are also plans to suspend learning in religious schools and frequent prayers in mosques. Over 40,000 people have died from the virus, 135,000 recovered of the 650,000 people who have so far tested positive, WHO announced.

Somalia received a consignment of medical supplies including face masks on Wednesday last week, which was part of the donations from Alibaba Group under billionaire philanthropist Jack Ma.

Last week, the country also dispatched 20 medical doctors working on a volunteer basis to Italy, which has so far borne the brunt of the COVID-19, Ismail Mukhtaar, the government spokesman said.


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