ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) – Ethiopia on Sunday announced the first two deaths of patients suffering from COVID-19, as officials ramped up testing to get a clearer picture of the outbreak there.
The first victim was a 60-year-old Ethiopian woman who had spent six days in intensive care, a health ministry statement said, with the second a 56-year-old Ethiopian man diagnosed with COVID-19 last Thursday.
“It is my deepest regret to announce the first death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia,” Health Minister Lia Tadesse said in announcing the country’s first fatality on Twitter.
Four hours later, Lia published a second post expressing “great sadness” as another death emerged.
Ethiopia, a country of more than 100 million people, confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 13 and has recorded just 43 in total — mostly people with a history of recent foreign travel.
But testing has been extremely limited.
As of Friday, the country had conducted just 1,222 tests, according to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute.