Somalia lifts flights ban for 48 hours days after suspension
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalis in the diaspora have 48 hours to return to the country, the ministry for Transport and Aviation announced on Saturday, a week after imposing travel sanctions due to Coronavirus pandemic.
Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, the department's minister, banned all international flights for 15 days, insisting that the measure was taken as a "swift" response to curb possible spread across the country.
But following an outcry from thousands of Somali citizens stranded elsewhere in the world, the ministry said the concerned people have only 48 hours to travel or risk being blocked again.
And as such, the ministry said, all international airlines playing Mogadishu route will be allowed to land, noting that most citizens are stranded in Kenya, Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates.
"This is to inform you that we shall only allow the flights for the next 48 hours. Failure to jet in within that stipulated time, we shall not take any responsibility, read the statement in part.
Somalia confirmed the first positive COVID-19 case last week, although no new infections have been detected. The victim had travelled from the Coronavirus-hit China, officials said.
Besides the flights suspension, the federal government also banned large social gatherings, announced shutdown for all institutions as part of swift response to curb spread of the COVID-19, whose impact has been devastating.
Some ten people have been quarantined after jetting in and the ministry of health is yet to announce their status. Most of them travelled from Asia and Europe, which have been severely attacked by the virus, officials added.
The Aviation ministry said the government has embarked on tracing people who traveled with the patient on the same flight, and are likely to be quarantined.
But to regulate escalation of the COVID-19 cases, the government has identified 14 countries that travellers will be closely monitored when they enter Somalia.
Among them include China, Italy, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, United States of America, Iran, United Arab Emirates, which have recorded highest cases of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those who will arrive from the countries will be taken to "compulsory quarantine for two weeks which will be facilitated by the government" according to a statement issued later on.
And those travelling from outside the high risk countries, will undergo a "must self-quarantine" to avert possible spread throughout the country, the ministry of health said.
Currently, over 9,000 deaths have been reported with the total number of infections going to 240,000. But of those infected, around 90,000 have recovered, Reuters reported.
Italy, China and Iran are the worst hit. Already, Italy has recorded over 4,000 deaths, surpassing China, which was first to record COVID-19 cases, at the Wuhan city.
Scientists across the world are working around the clock to unravel the quagmire, with America reporting progress, which could see the first vaccine unveiled in coming weeks.