Ethiopian Airlines suspends flights to 30 countries

An Ethiopian Airlines plane waits to take off from the Bole International Airport in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Africa’s largest carrier Ethiopian Airlines has suspended flights to 30 countries, as part of the measures to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic with nine cases having been recorded in the country.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrives in South Korea-Photo by Office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister

While making the announcement on Television on Friday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed indicated that the decision was reached to stem the spread of the virus which has so far claimed thousands of people globally.

He also stated that to avoid suffocation, which help the virus to spread quickly, all night clubs in the capital, Addis Ababa will also be closed with immediate effect.

Religious leaders were also advised to help in the fight against the pandemic by discouraging crowded religious practices.

Ethiopian government also said all other visitors to Ethiopia will be subject to a 14-day quarantine period in designated hotels at their own personal cost.

Details about which countries the airline will stop flying to were not immediately given.

While many airlines across the world stopped flying to the pandemic “epicenter countries”  Ethiopian Airlines continued to operate in those countries.

Mr. Abiy also stated that the first shipment of testing kits, masks and guidelines donated by Jack Ma through Alibaba will arrive on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

“In this regard the committee is working on the distribution within the country as well as the intended African countries. It is also indicated that Correction facilities to expand and utilize other holding spaces in order to avoid overcrowding. Additionally, new prisoners to be tested for COVID-19 before confinement to correctional facilities. While visits have been temporarily halted, prisoners with minor offenses and release dates that are near will be released from imprisonment,” he said.

Reacting to the latest report, the premier also said, “Harassment of foreign nationals is not acceptable adding that the virus does not discriminate any person.”