Roundup: Ethiopia launches COVID-19 testing campaign amid widespread call to curb rapid infection rate

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ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 18,706 on Sunday amid widespread call to avert the current rapid spread of the virus in the East African country.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health, in a statement issued on Sunday, revealed that from a total of 7,607 medical tests that were conducted within the last 24 hours, 707 of them tested positive for COVID-19, eventually bringing the total number of positive cases to 18,706.

Some 28 additional patients succumbed to illnesses related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the East African country to 310, according to the ministry.

The ministry further said 7,601 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had so far recovered, including 406 in the last 24 hours period.

According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, a total of 10,793 COVID-19 patients are still undergoing medical treatment, out of which 153 are in severe condition.

On Sunday, the East African country officially launched a nationwide month long testing campaign, which the Ethiopian government said "will determine the next steps to undertake in the new year," which will start on September 11.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, also said that "increased testing is key to knowing the trend of COVID-19 nationally so as to enable effective decision making on various fronts."

The Ethiopian premier also called upon "all stakeholders to participate and encourage various segments of our society to get tested, in line with Ministry of Health plans. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Keep your distance."

Amid the rapidly spreading COVID-19 infection rate in the East African country, Ahmed also stressed that his government and people "took COVID-19 prevention measures early on and did well collectively."

"Starting early may have led some to prevention fatigue, yet we are now witnessing a rapid spread that warrants we confront complacency," he added.

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous nation with about 107 million people, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 13, and has so far conducted some 437,319 COVID-19 medical tests, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spreads across the East African country, the Ethiopian government as well as healthcare experts and analysts mainly attribute the recent spike of COVID-19 pandemic to the unrest that affected the Horn of African country earlier this month.

Deadly protests erupted in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, which is the hotbed of COVID-19 infection in Ethiopia, as well as some cities and towns in Ethiopia's largest Oromia Regional State during the first week of July as protesters went violent following a public outrage attributed to the killing of a popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa, who was killed on June 29 in Addis Ababa.

By official statistics, Addis Ababa recorded about three-fourths of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ethiopia, including recording 295 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, out of a nationwide total of 469.

Ethiopian government health officials had been warning the protestors to take maximum anti-COVID-19 protections, such as face masks.

However, some protests in the capital and in almost all the unrest-hit parts of the East African country were reported to be without face masks as well as without the recommended social distancing measures. Enditem

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