COVID-19 in Ethiopia in the first 180 days: Lessons learned and the way forward
Within just nine months of its official identification by the World Health Organization, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused 34 million confirmed infections and about 1 million deaths worldwide. The collateral damage and spill over effects to all sectors has caused severe social disruption and an economic crisis that the world was unprepared for. Despite the relentless global effort, the pandemic remains a serious threat to lives and livelihood. As a result, all countries are faced with the daunting task of balancing outbreak prevention strategies against efforts to save their economies. Nevertheless, almost every country now has months of local evidences about the pandemic that will support contextualized and measured actions.
The number of confirmed cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19 in Ethiopia has steadily increased since the first reported case on 13 March 2020. Although the country has so far avoided the feared catastrophe, the true burden of the problem may be far beyond what has been reported due to limited testing capacity. With the current trends of widespread community transmission, COVID-19 remains a serious public health threat in the country. In addition, multiple human-related and environmental factors, combined with relaxed COVID-19 mitigation strategies, have put the country at a high epidemic risk. Thus, proactive and balanced measures based on local evidence should be taken to prevent the country from slipping into a dire public health crisis. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2020; 34(4):000-000]
Key words: COVID-19, Ethiopia, pandemic