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Somalia: Sports minister refuses to undergo mandatory Coronavirus screening at Mogadishu airport

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A top official refused to undergo mandatory Coronavirus screening at Aden Adde airport, authorities said, in a case that depicts indiscipline among a clique of government workers.

In footage obtained by Garowe Online, Khadija Mohamed Diriye is seen walking past airport workers, despite efforts to restrain her from skipping the process.

Reports from the airport indicate that the minister, who had boarded the Turkish airline plane, was arriving from Egypt, one of the first African country to confirm a Coronavirus case.

As a preventative measure against the viral disease, the ministry of health had imposed compulsory screening at all major airports in Somalia, officials said.

Upon arrival, Ms. Diriye walked directly to the officials who had turned up to usher her to the country, a decision that left many medics baffled and mesmerized, reports indicate.

A doctor who spoke in confidence said the top officer was flagged down but refused to heed to the call, causing confusion within the largest airport in Somalia.

“We were shocked and also scared that the minister could not take the test especially as we know she came from Egypt which already reported a case of the disease,” the medic said.

Earlier, he added, another minister had been subjected to screening without resistance, which is now a global requirement following a directive by the World Health Organization [WHO].

Over 2,700 have died from the virus which emanated from China, with 80,000 contracting it globally, WHO said in a statement on Wednesday.

New infections are spreading first outside China, WHO added, even as Brazil, Pakistan, Italy, and Iran were reported as the latest epicenter for the virus.

Even as Ms. Diriye refused to undergo tests, her counterpart from Iran, Iraj Hirirchi, is fighting for her life after testing positive, Reuters reported.

“My corona test is positive ... I don't have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world,” Mahmoud Sadeghi, an MP in Iran also confirmed his status.

In Africa, only Egypt and Algeria have recorded Coronavirus infections, even as the United Nations warned that "most countries are not prepared" to face the tragedy.

For East Africa and the Horn of Africa, it's a matter of precautions to curb possible infections, with most airlines also suspending flights to China, which was first to record the cases.

There was an outcry in neighboring Kenya on Wednesday when a China Southern airline plane was allowed to disembark at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

But the health department said: “All 239 passengers were screened onboard, cleared and advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days."

It's not immediately clear if President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will take an action against his minister, as a warning for erratic officials defying instructions for the public' common good.