Picture: Ethiopian Press Agency

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, April 6, 2021 – A year after Ethiopia recorded its first case of Covid-19, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate. The number of people entering the intensive care unit (ICU) and the number of deaths have increased in the last couple of weeks.  While the virus is spreading across Ethiopia, shortages of oxygen supply has been recorded in different locations across the country. Currently more than 800 people are admitted to the ICUs and the number of the dead is increasing according to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI).

Both the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Federal Attorney General office (FAG) last week announced that they have issued a directive restricting public and social gathering to curb the spread of the virus; those who don’t comply with the directive will face up to two years in prison and other penalties as punishment. The directive also reduced the number of people allowed in public events to 50 and made it mandatory to apply the necessary precautionary measures. The directive also barrs anyone who is affected by Covid-19 from entering the country.  

“The government directive is good if the government itself implements it. In our country government officials don’t wear masks so it Is not fair to force the people to wear masks,” said Abel Bisrat who lives in Addis Ababa. He also added “Who holds most meetings? If the law is applicable to everyone,  government officials should lead by example. But they appear in the media without a mask.” The Attorney General office has reiterated the fact that government institutions are not immune to punishment if they violate the directive. 

Selam Zenbe lost her sister last week by Covid-19, she told Addis standard, “My sister died due to shortage of Oxygen supply. She could not find an artificial respirator. We went to many hospitals but we could not find an artificial respirator. I don’t understand why many people see the disease as a joke.” 

A healthcare professional at a government hospital who also asked to remain anonymous said, “Not only are we lacking artificial respirators, we don’t have oxygen supply.  A lot of patients who are in need are flooding the hospital  day by day and the number of deaths is increasing.”

it is important to note that the spike in Covid-19 cases comes as the country is preparing to hold its postponed national elections on June 5, 2021. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has expressed concerns about the outbreak of the novel virus with registered cases at the time being in the low double digits category and its effects on work related to preparation for election, the board a week later on March 31, 2020 announced the postponement of elections indefinitely due to the outbreak.  Later the MoH delivered a report to parliament stating the country was ready to hold an election again.

During the period of one year 2,398,596 tests were run Covid-19 making the total number of registered cases 217,327. To this day the number of active cases stand at 51,303 and 3000 deaths have been recorded. AS

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