Ethiopia announced on Monday that it had closed its borders. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that Ethiopia’s borders are closed to combat the spread of Coronavirus. The decision is effective as of March 23, 2020, and it is only for land borders.
The decision came after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s meeting with the intelligence and security heads in the country.
“Considering the fast rate of spread globally and the increasing positive cases confirmed in Ethiopia,” said the statement from the office of the Prime Minister, sub-committees for The National Ministerial Committee is formed – primarily to work on Coronavirus prevention.
In the north, northwest, and northeast, Ethiopia shares a border with Eritrea, the least affected country with only one confirmed case so far.
Sudan and South Sudan share borders with Ethiopia in the Western part of Ethiopia, which is stretching more than one thousand kilometers. Sudan has declared a health emergency last week following the death of a 50 years old Sudanese and has also closed its border with Egypt as part of the prevention measures.
In the South and South East, Ethiopia shares a border with Kenya and Somalia, respectively. In the East, Shares a border with Djibouti – through which Ethiopia carries out most of its import and export trades. The two countries are linked with a railway line for passengers and cargo. It is suspended as part of the border closure.
On Friday, Ethiopia introduced a new regulation requiring all travelers entering the country to go through 14 days of quarantine in selected hotels in the capital Addis Ababa at their own expense. Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, which belongs to Ethiopian Airlines, is one of the hotels chosen for that purpose. Ghion Hotel in the heart of Addis Ababa is another one selected for quarantine.
What happens for those who can not cover their expenses for two weeks? According to state-owned media, the Ethiopian government will cover their costs if they are Ethiopians.
Prime Minister Ahmed said on Monday that the number of travelers to Ethiopia had decreased dramatically.
Ethiopian Airlines has already grounded about 20 percent of its fleet after it suspended flights to thirty countries around the world. But the airline is still flying to North American cities, including Toronto. Competitor airlines like Emirates and Turkish Airlines introduced this week that they have grounded their entire fleets. According to Aljazeera, the loss in the airlines’ industry is estimated to be $100 billion. Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewelde Gebremariam, confirmed last week that the Coronavirus crisis has already caused Ethiopian Airlines a loss of about 190 million dollars revenue.
The Ethiopian government has allocated about five billion birrs to protective measures against the pandemic. Mostly, it to be spent on sanitary items supplies, among other things.
Businesses illegally increasing prices will face “tougher measures” from the government. Eritrea has introduced strict measures on that. Businesses that increase prices illegally will be stripped of their license, and their business could even be confiscated.
The number of confirmed COVID 19 cases in Ethiopia is now eleven, and most of the cases are people who entered the country some times this month.
Ethiopia is also mobilizing security to enforce social distancing as most people in the country do not seem to take its importance as a preventative measure seriously.
Too many Ethiopians express concern that if the number of COVID19 cases rises exponentially, the health system in the country will not be in a position to respond to it.