Dr. Lia Tadesse (2nd L), Minister of Health of Ethiopia, addresses the press during an urgent press conference at the Federal…
Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, speaks during an urgent press conference at the Federal Ministry of Health after the first case of COVID-19 coronavirus was detected in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, March 13, 2020.

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia's Health Minister Lia Tadesse confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus Friday.

Tadesse said a 48-year-old Japanese national who had entered the country after visiting Burkina Faso has tested positive for the virus.

The confirmation fueled fears that COVID-19, which is now in more than 130 countries worldwide, could spread in Africa's second most populous country.

Tadesse advised Ethiopians to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

FILE - A passenger wears a mask as she waits at passport control in Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Jan. 30, 2020, following an outbreak of coronavirus in China.

"At this point we have identified and confirmed the first case for Ethiopia," she said. "So we are giving the community, the public the preventive measures that we have been advising for a while now. Strengthening those advices in terms of personal hygiene and also avoiding very crowded places, especially if they are feeling sick."

She added that Ethiopia is not planning to cancel any flights abroad.

"This virus is now in 134 countries. So stopping flights is not going to be a solution," Tadesse  said.

The health minister said Ethiopia currently has the capacity to quarantine 600 people, and that additional hospital sites are being prepared. Ethiopia has tested 60 people for the virus.

The Japanese patient is still in quarantine. According to Tadesse, he spent about 10 days in Burkina Faso before arriving in Addis on March 4. He fell sick after arrival, and was tested for coronavirus Wednesday.
 

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