By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - The Ethiopian Parliament on Friday endorsed a state of emergency due to the spread of coronavirus in the country and across Africa.
Ethiopia has so far confirmed 65 novel coronavirus cases and two deaths, while there are fears the virus may spread faster in the coming days and weeks across the country.
The country had already closed schools and declared stay-at-home measures for civil servants.
In a special meeting at the Palace -- the first time the parliament changed venue -- which has a hall providing much needed space for physical distancing, the parliamentarians almost voted unanimously, with only one vote abstaining, according to the local broadcaster FANA.
The state of emergency declared by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday will last for five months effective its endorsement, but no restriction has been mentioned yet.
“Restrictions will be declared in the coming days and weeks according to the situation, and that is why the declaration of the State of Emergency did not list them out,” Nigusu Tilahun, the press secretary at the prime minister’s office, said earlier in a virtual press briefing.
He said: “The state of emergency was deemed necessary to allow the government to take all the necessary and appropriate measures according to the spread and impact the virus will have on society.”
Declaring the state of emergency, the Ethiopian prime minister said agricultural and industrial activities would not be disrupted due to the virus as it stood now.
On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s major foreign currency earner, the Ethiopian Airlines, revealed that it incurred losses to the tune of $550 million as air travel took a backseat due to restrictions to curb the pandemic.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.
Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows that worldwide infections have exceeded 1.61 million, with the death toll surpassing 96,700. More than 361,200 people have recovered.