Last week's historic economic news, namely the change of the currency notes, has somehow shifted the media attention away from the pandemic. Coupled with the vibes of the major holidays [New Year and Meskel [the finding of true cross], the flood disasters that are occurring in various regional states including Afar, Gambela and Amhara regions has also contributed for the corona affair to take the backbench in the rows of news agendas during the last week. One can assume that relative to the majority of the weeks of the previous six months, the news coverage on the pandemic has been minimal during last week.
And yet, there was major progress in the corona situation which happened near the end of last week
with the announcement of the recommendation made by the Health Minister to the Parliament. The minister has reportedly suggested that there was a realistic possibility, with respect to health conditions related to coronavirus, to conduct the stalled national elections as well as reopen schools by following the recommended protective health guidelines
FBC wrote, "Ministry of Health has suggested recommendation for the House of Peoples Representative that the country can hold the postponed national elections if necessary preconditions are completed ahead of the poll. The Minister has tabled recommendations to the House [parliament] regarding future scenarios and coronavirus responses to contain the virus spread, and making it to possible to hold the poll postponed last year following the outbreak of pandemic. She said the nation has built preventive capacities in mitigating circumstances despite the continuation of the spread of the virus."
The newsagent has also quoted the minister as saying: The nation can hold the postponed elections as the majority of the populace are developing protective awareness and practicing precautionary mechanisms. Ethiopia has benchmarked best preventive practices from various countries and has implemented them accordingly.
It was also reported that the Health Ministry can establish 10,500 emergency responses and surveillance teams across the nation and that the country can reduce the rate of the spread of the virus by 92 pct. if social distancing guidelines and mask wearing precaution are observed by 25 pct. and 50 pct. respectively. Recent data indicates that Nation's testing capacity has increased tremendously as the test labs across the nation managed to conduct over 1.2 million laboratory tests.
Preparedness made in health institutions, ample supply of locally produced sanitizers and protective gears supplies and commencement of local production of diagnostic kits are some of the successful preventive steps that are believed to be considered as additional factors boosting the ministry's confidence to recommend the running of the general elections and reopening of schools.
Following thorough deliberations, both at committee and plenary level, on recommendations forwarded by the Health Minister, it is very likely that the parliamentarians will pass a resolution in few day time to reopen schools and to hold the stalled general elections this year under the condition of strict protective health guidelines and procedures.
With regards to schools reopening, the ministry of education has already been engaged in preparation works months in advance to make sure that t would bring its estimated 26 million students back to school in a safe and coordinated manner. Schools across the nation have already conducted or in the progress of registering their students for the new academic year.
While the news for the return to the normalization of our daily life is quite heartening, there were still news heard in the past week, raising matters of concern . The advent of preparations for one of the major holiday, Meskel, which involves the mass travel from city and country side, as well as gathering of thousands of people, has caused some regional authorities to come out on the media to appeal to the public to celebrate without taking any risks of contacting or transmitting the virus.
Officials of Gurage and Hadiya zone in SNNPR have urged public to avoid travelling from cities to rural areas to celebrate the holiday this year.
Looking at the status of the pandemic during the past week, the nation has passed last Sunday the 1,000 mark of case fatalities. Still, there is no sign of the pandemic spread reaching its peak. Experts suggest that it is only when the majority of the populace is committed to adhere to the basic protective measures that the peak would come within our reach. "The peak will not come by itself, unless we work for strictly practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitization," they stated.