The number of coronavirus cases in Djibouti now exceeds 1,000 and the death toll stands at two, authorities said Saturday.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nine people were infected with the virus that brings the total to 1,008.


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Two have died in Djibouti and the number of recoveries is 373.

The number of cases across Africa increased to 29,422, with 1,342 patients dying from COVID-19 on the continent.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed more than 202,200 people, with total infections nearing 2.9 million, while over 813,900 have recovered, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Djibouti expels thousands of Ethiopian migrants

Meanwhile, Djibouti has sent thousands of Ethiopian migrants back to their country in recent weeks, and some returnees have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said on Friday.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that so far in April “over 2,400 migrants” have been returned from Djibouti to Ethiopia, said Yvonne Ndege, an IOM spokeswoman.

“But with the pandemic still unfolding this is a developing situation and the numbers are changing,” Ndege said. After being deposited at the border, the returnees are transported to quarantine facilities in the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa or in the northern Afar region, said Zewdu Assefa from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute.

At least four of the returnees in Dire Dawa have tested positive for COVID-19, Zewdu said. Ethiopian officials are worried the disease could spread further, as it is unclear whether Djibouti is doing any screening, Zewdu said.

“There is a concern for sure and we are all trying our best to manage that,” he said. Ethiopians looking to migrate to Saudi Arabia in search of work often travel via Djibouti, where they board boats to cross the Red Sea.

Djibouti’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idriss Farah, said on Friday that many of the returnees were stranded in Djibouti because of pandemic-related travel restrictions and wanted to go back to Ethiopia.

But Zewdu said at least some of them were probably victims of “forced deporting”. Djibouti, a strategically important country that hosts major US and French military bases, has reported nearly 1,000 cases of COVID-19. Its small population of around one million means it has the highest prevalence of the disease on the continent, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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