Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

A woman wearing a face mask, runs in front of a truck spraying disinfectant on the street as part of measures to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter.

“Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

Africa’s second most populous nation at more than 110 million, Ethiopia has recorded 52 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and two deaths.

Authorities have already taken a series of measures to stem the spread including closing schools, banning public gatherings and requiring most employees to work from home.

The prime minister did not mention what additional steps would be taken under the state of emergency but the attorney general’s office said the period would last five months.

Anyone who violates any rules and measures imposed under the state of emergency faces up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 200,000 Ethiopian birr ($6,149.40), according to the attorney general’s office.

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