Ethiopia Shutdowns Universities, Releases Prisoners over COVID-19

By Staff Reporter

COVID-19March 25, 2020 ( -- The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Higher Education announced the temporary closure of higher learning institutions in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) among university communities.

The announcement came a day before the over 40 universities denied students to leave campus in a circular amid growing concerns of overcrowding in dormitories and lecture classes.

The universities will cover transportation fares of the students back to their families but did not give clear information as to when the students will restart classes.

A month and a half ago, the Ministry of Science and Higher Learning Education announced that about 35,000 university students left for their family due to ethnic-based violence on the campus which left at least 20 students dead.

The violence had reached a critical point particularly in universities located in the Oromia region where ethnic Amhara students were prime targets.

University students have been attending online lectures from their dormitories after the government suspended academic activities in schools until the end of March in a bid to reduce the risk of infections of COVID-19.

So far, Ethiopia has confirmed 12 cases of coronavirus and the first two Japanese patients returned home and the remaining 10 but one are in good health condition, the Ministry of Health said.

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute said the laboratory results of 106 people who were quarantined for suspected cases of coronavirus have tested negative.

Dr. Eba Abate, Director General of the Institute, on Wednesday said 20 people who were made to stay in an isolation center are waiting for their laboratory results.

Meanwhile, more than 500 passengers who arrived in Addis Ababa from different countries are in mandatory 14-day quarantine since Tuesday amid complaints that other hundreds of Ethiopian passengers claimed that they can not afford hotel expenses as opposed to the decision of the Minister of Council last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia has granted pardon to 4,010 inmates as part of an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prison centers.

President Sahelework Zewdie has already approved the list of pardoned inmates presented to her by the board of pardon, said Attorney General Adanech Abiebie.

Pardoned foreign nationals majority of whom were convict of drug smuggling will be sent to their respective countries, she said.

Mid this month, the government decided to release those inmates who were arrested for minor offenses and women prisoners in a counter move to contain the spread of coronavirus in detention centers.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, nearly 19000 people died of coronavirus since the outbreak in China end of last year. More than 450,000 reportedly have been infected by the deadly COVID-19 worldwide. The highest fatality is in Italy with 6820 deaths, followed by Spain, which had 3434 dead by Wednesday, and China with reported deaths of 3285.

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