The Somali government has confirmed that it has sent 20 doctors to Italy to help contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) amid a surge in deaths.
Government Spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar said the doctors are volunteers from the Somali National University, who have been in some European countries.
“The 20 doctors have already been registered in Italy and are expected to team up with doctors from across the world to help Italy contain the coronavirus,” Mr Omar said.
He said the doctors have been sent as part of the emergency response team following an appeal from the Italian government for international help to contain the virus.
Somalia, which has so far confirmed three cases of Covid-19, has banned all international flights as well as domestic ones as part of measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus in the country.
Meanwhile, South Africa has seen a growing number of health workers infected with Covid-19, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.
As of Saturday night, the country had reported 1,187 cases, an increase of 17 in 24 hours, the minister said, adding that 13 of the new patients were health workers.
A 70-year-old doctor in Free State Province is now under intensive care after contracting the coronavirus, the minister said, voicing concern over the growing number of cases among medical staff.
“It must be emphasised that none of these health workers were infected by patients that they were treating,” Dr Mkhize said, without giving details on how they got the virus.
According to the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), most of the cases in the country involve people who had travelled to Europe, the US or the Middle East.
The majority of those without international travel history have had recent contact with people who travelled abroad, NICD said.
So far, South Africa has the largest number of Covid-19 cases on the African continent, with one coronavirus-related death reported.
The country began a 21-day national lockdown from midnight last Thursday.