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Friday, 29 May 2020

AU chief in quarantine after staffer positive for coronavirus

AFP , Friday 27 Mar 2020
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Views: 1621

African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat is "observing quarantine" after a staff member in his office tested positive for COVID-19, an AU source told AFP.

The staff member is a 72-year-old Mauritian man who had returned to Addis Ababa, where the AU is headquartered, from the Republic of Congo on March 14, according to a statement from Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse.

The statement, which did not mention the man's AU affiliation, said six people who had contact with the patient are "under follow up".

The AU source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Faki had been in contact with the patient.

"The person works in the chairperson's office. The chairperson and his key advisers are among the contacts that are observing quarantine," the source said.

So far only one AU staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an advisory sent to AU employees on Friday and seen by AFP.

"Any staff member who has been in contact with this staff is by virtue of this communication requested to report to any of the contacts below for advice," the advisory said.

"There is no reason to panic or to be anxious," it added.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the AU has ordered most staffers to work from home and discouraged "non-essential and personal international and local travel", according to the advisory.

Staff members returning to Addis Ababa from coronavirus-affected countries "should stay at home", the advisory said.

Ethiopia has confirmed 16 cases of COVID-19, but as of Wednesday it had conducted only 576 tests.

In addition to the AU staffer, the latest positive cases in Ethiopia announced Friday include a 28-year-old Ethiopian woman who recently travelled to Israel, and a 24-year-old woman who had no history of travelling abroad, according to the statement from Lia, the health minister.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ordered a number of measures to prevent widespread transmission of the coronavirus, including shutting land borders and limiting overcrowding in buses and taxis.

But Abiy's appeals for Ethiopians to practice social distancing have fallen on deaf ears in some quarters, as large crowds continue to form in the capital, Addis Ababa, for religious ceremonies and other events.

Ethiopia has stopped short of imposing the kinds of lockdowns seen elsewhere on the continent.

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