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World

Coronavirus now in Tanzania, Somalia as East Africa starts closures

Agence France-Presse
Coronavirus now in Tanzania, Somalia as East Africa starts closures
A worker checks the temperature of travellers at the border post with Kenya in Namanga, northern Tanzania, on March 16, 2020, on the day Tanzania confirmed the first case of the covid-19. Tanzania and Somalia on March 16 became the latest East African countries to confirm their first cases of coronavirus, as neighbouring countries shuttered borders and schools as fears of contagion rose. A 46-year-old Tanzanian woman tested positive for the illness after returning from Belgium on March 15, where she had been staying with a relative sick with coronavirus.
AFP / Filbert Rweyemaru

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Tanzania and Somalia on Monday became the latest East Africa countries to confirm their first cases of coronavirus, as neighbouring countries shuttered borders and schools as fears of contagion rose.

As the global pandemic takes root in Africa, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma announced he was donating 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits to each of the continent's 54 countries.

"We take precautions and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons of other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus," he said in a statement on Twitter.

In a little over a week, 21 new African countries have reported cases, bringing the total affected to 30.

In West Africa, Liberia and Benin also recorded their first cases Monday.

A 46-year-old Tanzanian woman tested positive for the illness after returning from Belgium on March 15, where she had been staying with a relative sick with coronavirus.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said the woman, who was recovering in hospital in Arusha, was not detected by temperature scanners but reported herself for testing.

"All in all, this is an imported case, and the woman is improving and continues with treatment," she said.

Somalia, meanwhile, also confirmed its first case of coronavirus and announced a ban on international flights in and out of the country, starting from Wednesday.

The government had quarantined four Somalis as a precaution after they arrived from country's with coronavirus outbreaks, and one had subsequently tested positive.

"None of the quarantined individuals had shown symptoms so far, and look healthy, but the virus is present in the body of this individual," health minister Fowzia Abikar Nur said in a televised address.

The travel ban will extend to cargo flights but exclude humanitarian ones, transport minister Mohamed Abdulahi Omar said.

Regional clampdown

The announcements from Tanzania and Somalia came as Rwanda confirmed two more cases of the virus, bringing its total to 7.

Rwanda has shut schools and churches for two weeks and banned concerts and large gatherings. Its national airline RwandAir has cancelled flights to India, Israel and China, however insists tourists are still welcome.

In an additional measure taken Monday, the government announced it had fixed food prices to avoid hikes.

Ethiopia introduced its own raft of fresh restrictions Monday, closing schools and suspending large gatherings like sporting events. The country, the most populous in the region with 100 million people, has five confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Mauritius, meanwhile, a smattering of islands in the Indian Ocean dependent on tourism, announced it would deny entry to anyone who had visited the EU, Switzerland or UK in the past 14 days.

Previously, the restriction only applied to those who had visited China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong.

It has not recorded any positive cases so far.

"Our country is a tourist destination. Thousands of foreigners come to and transit through Mauritius. We are very exposed," said Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

There are now 19 confirmed cases across six countries in East Africa.

Kenya, which has three cases, on Sunday announced strict measures including blocking entry to foreigners who do not have a valid resident permit and are coming from a country with a confirmed case.

EAST AFRICA

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

SOMALIA

TANZANIA

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 30, 2022 - 12:45pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

July 30, 2022 - 12:45pm

North Korea reports zero fever cases on Saturday for the first time in more than two months since it confirmed its first COVID-19 infections in May.

"There were no new fever patients reported" over a 24-hour period from Thursday evening, the state-run Korean Central News Agency says, marking the first time the isolated country had reported no new cases since it began tallying numbers in May.

While it has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic, experts have said that massive Omicron outbreaks in neighbouring countries meant it was only a matter of time before Covid snuck in. — AFP

July 27, 2022 - 5:46pm

According to a pair of new studies in the journal Science that claimed to have tipped the balance in the debate about the virus' origins, an animal market in China's Wuhan really was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answering the question of whether the disease spilled over naturally from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident, is viewed as vital to averting the next pandemic and saving millions of lives.

The first paper analyzed the geographic pattern of COVID-19 cases in the outbreak's first month, December 2019, showing the first cases were tightly clustered around Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. — AFP

July 17, 2022 - 2:01pm

Macau is set to begin another working week of partial lockdown, after the city extended the closure of its casinos and non-essential businesses to try and eradicate its worst coronavirus outbreak yet. 

Authorities had announced a week of "static management" starting June 11 after recording more than 1,500 infections in the previous three weeks despite multiple rounds of compulsory mass testing of the city's population.

The restrictions had been due to lift on Monday, but cases have continued to climb, with the Macau government saying Sunday there had been 1,733 cases recorded since the start of the outbreak. 

Daily case numbers are comparatively small by global standards, but authorities have moved quickly to stamp out transmission as they adhere to mainland China's strict zero-Covid policy. 

On Saturday the government announced that the "static management" period would be extended through Friday.  -- AFP

July 12, 2022 - 4:58pm

Hundreds of thousands of people were under lockdown in a small Chinese city Tuesday after just one case of Covid-19 was detected, as Beijing's strict no-tolerance virus strategy showed no sign of abating.

China is the last major economy glued to a zero-Covid policy, crushing new outbreaks with snap lockdowns, forced quarantines and onerous travel curbs despite mounting public fatigue and damage to the economy.

Authorities in several regions have imposed a range of restrictions as they struggle to tamp down fresh flare-ups driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

After reporting a new domestic infection, the steelmaking hub of Wugang in Henan province announced Monday that it would implement three days of "closed control" in response to "the needs of disease prevention", according to an official notice.

None of the city's 320,000 people are allowed to set foot outside their homes until midday Thursday, the notice said, adding that basic necessities would be delivered by local authorities. -- AFP

July 11, 2022 - 3:50pm

Asian markets and oil prices mostly fell Monday with a fresh Covid flare-up in Shanghai fanning fears of another economically painful lockdown in China's biggest city.

The news comes after a forecast-busting US jobs report last week indicated the world's top economy was coping so far with the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, giving it room for more as it battles soaring inflation.

Traders are also keeping tabs on developments in Washington as President Joe Biden weighs removing some of the Donald Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Shanghai recorded more than 120 virus cases at the weekend, having seen its first case of the highly contagious BA.5 Omicron strain, forcing officials to launch another mass testing drive. — AFP

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