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|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Somalia|
|Arrival date||16 March 2020|
(2 weeks and 3 days)
|Confirmed cases||5[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.
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. Most of the rural areas are dominated by the terrorist group Al-Shabab, which has a history of disrupting humanitarian work. It faces widespread poverty and hunger, leaving people vulnerable to an outbreak.
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.
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.
The Somali Aviation Ministry ordered a suspension of all international flights for 15 days starting from Wednesday, 18 March, with the possibility of exceptions for humanitarian flights. The suspension affected khat imports from Kenya, leading to economic difficulties for khat sellers in Somalia and growers in Kenya. Also on 18 March, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced $5 million had been allocated to address the pandemic.
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.
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.
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. On March 31, the Health Minister of Somaliland announced that the government confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in Somaliland, these two people were among the three suspects who were quarantined by Ministry of Health and sent their DNA to abroad for testing.
Somalia lacks testing capacity, so test samples must be sent abroad for processing, which delays results.