People who refuse to wear covid masks will be JAILED for up to two years in Ethiopia
- Ethiopia’s restrictions prohibit shaking hands and not wearing masks in public
- Attorney general’s office said violating restrictions could lead to jail
- The announcement comes amid concerns the virus isn’t being taken seriously
People who refuse to wear a protective face mask in violation of coronavirus restrictions will be jailed for up to two years in Ethiopia.
The announcement comes amid concern that citizens are becoming lax over COVID-19 after a state of emergency was lifted.
Restrictions in the country prohibit shaking hands, not wearing a mask in a public place, seating more than three people at a table or not keeping ‘two adult steps’ – around six feet – apart.
The new law permits fines and imprisonment for up to two years for anyone who breaks the restrictions.
A respiratory therapist gives a training session on a mechanical ventilator for health professionals – all wearing masks – preparing to treat the coronavirus disease. On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s attorney general’s office announced anyone found to be in breach of coronavirus restrictions faces jail amid concerns the virus is not being taken seriously enough
‘Now it is as if COVID is no longer there, the public is not taking care,’ Health Minister Lia Tadesse tweeted on Thursday. ‘This will cause a possible increase in the spread of the disease and might be a threat to the nation.’
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation and a regional powerhouse, declared a state of emergency in April to curb the spread of the pandemic. It was lifted in September.
The health ministry has recorded 91,118 COVID-19 cases, 1,384 deaths and 44,506 recoveries so far.
The disease peaked there toward the end of August, but its difficult to know the true picture because testing has been also scaled back due to limited resources.
At least 79 people died of COVID-19 in the past week, the health ministry said, but less than 2% of deaths are formally recorded.
Ethiopia also postponed its regional and parliamentary elections scheduled for August due to the outbreak. They are expected to be held next year.
Ethiopia’s Health Minister Lia TadesseDr Lia Tadesse (third from left, pictured back in March receiving a deliver of PPE) raised concerns that citizens are not taking the coronavirus seriously in a Tweet on Thursday
Africa has mostly not seen the huge wave of infections and deaths that have swept across Europe and the Americas.
Experts say a much younger population, immediate measures to contain the virus and having a more rural population have all helped keep cases down.
But many African leaders are urging vigilance, concerned that any surge in cases could overwhelm rickety public health systems.
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