2020 coronavirus pandemic in Somalia

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Somalia
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakChina
Arrival date16 March 2020
(2 weeks and 3 days)
Confirmed cases5[Note 1]

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have reached Somalia in March 2020. There is great concern about the possibility of an outbreak in Somalia, due to the country's lawlessness, lack of control by the central government as well as the lack of healthcare infrastructure.[1][2]


Somalia is in a state of protracted military conflict; the central government lacks control over large parts of the country, and is at odds with several of the regional governments.[2][3] Most of the rural areas are dominated by the terrorist group Al-Shabab, which has a history of disrupting humanitarian work.[4] It faces widespread poverty and hunger, leaving people vulnerable to an outbreak.[4]

Somalia's healthcare infrastructure is weak;[1][2] it ranks 194th out of 195 in the Global Health Security Index.[4] The country has less than 20 ICU beds available.[4]



On 16 March, the first case in Somalia was confirmed.[5] Somalia's Health Ministry reported that a Somali citizen was returning home from China.[6]


Prevention instructions in Somali

On 15 March, the government banned passengers who had been to China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea in the past 14 days from entering Somalia. At that time the government had quarantined four people.[7]

On 17 March, the government announced that schools and universities would be closed for 15 days effective from 19 March and that large gatherings were prohibited.[2]

The Somali Aviation Ministry ordered a suspension of all international flights for 15 days starting from Wednesday, 18 March,[6] with the possibility of exceptions for humanitarian flights.[1] The suspension affected khat imports from Kenya, leading to economic difficulties for khat sellers in Somalia and growers in Kenya.[8] Also on 18 March, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced $5 million had been allocated to address the pandemic.[2]

Mohamed Mohamud Ali, chairman of Somali Medical Association warned that the virus could kill many more people in Somalia than in China or Iran because there are no testing kits in the country and they have to wait at least three days to get results from South Africa.[2]

Al-Shabab leaders met to discuss COVID-19. Ahmed Khalif of Action Against Hunger warned that the extremist group has a history of blocking access for humanitarian workers, but may allow people to go elsewhere for treatment.[4]

Twenty volunteer doctors from Somali National University went to Italy to help fight the outbreak there.[9]


Somaliland, internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, but which operates independently, implemented measures to prevent an outbreak. Schools were closed, social events and gatherings prohibited, and flights and travel restricted. The government issued guidelines effective for one month starting 19 March. Entry was banned for flights and people from China, Iran, Italy, France, Kenya, Somalia, South Korea, and Spain. Khat chewing establishments were ordered closed, and special guidance was issued for mosques.[10] On March 31, the Health Minister of Somaliland announced that the government confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in Somaliland,[11] these two people were among the three suspects who were quarantined by Ministry of Health and sent their DNA to abroad for testing.[12]


Somalia lacks testing capacity, so test samples must be sent abroad for processing, which delays results.[4]


  1. ^ Three cases are confirmed in Somalia and two in Somaliland


  1. ^ a b c "Somalia Confirms First Case of Coronavirus | Voice of America - English". VOA News. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mohamed, Hamza (19 March 2020). "Coronavirus pandemic: Experts say Somalia risk greater than China". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e f "In Somalia, coronavirus goes from fairy tale to nightmare". AP NEWS. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Coronavirus Update (Live) - Worldometer".
  6. ^ a b "Somalia, Tanzania confirm first coronavirus cases". Anadolu Agency. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  7. ^ "COVID-19: Somalia bans entry from worst-hit countries". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Coronavirus Hits Somalia's Khat Sellers | Voice of America - English". Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Somalia sending 20 doctors to help Italy fight virus". 27 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Somaliland: Country Goes on High Covid-19 Alert, Establishes Stringent Virus Preventive..." Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Somaliland Confirms 2 Covid-19 Cases". MENAFN. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Dawladda Somaliland oo Shaacisay laba qof oo laga helay Cudurka Covid-19". Wargeyska Dawan (in Somali). Retrieved 31 March 2020.
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