(Adds travel ban, president’s comments)
WINDHOEK, March 14 (Reuters) - Namibia is the latest in a growing list of sub-Saharan African countries to report their first cases of coronavirus.
A couple from Spain who arrived in the Southern African country on Wednesday both tested positive and have been quarantined, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said on Saturday.
Namibia, Kingdom of eSwatini, Ethiopia and Rwanda have all reported their first coronavirus cases over the last 48 hours amid mounting fears the pandemic could overwhelm the world’s poorest continent.
Namibian president Hage Geingob told a press conference on Saturday that the government would implement several measures to try and contain the outbreak, including banning all mass gatherings for 30 days and clamping down on travel to three countries.
“The Namibian government is suspending inbound and outbound travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany with immediate effect for a period of 30 days,” Geingob said.
Independence Celebrations scheduled for March 21 have been cancelled, he added, though a swearing-in ceremony for his second and final term will go ahead.
Health Minister Shangula had earlier said the Independence celebrations would go ahead as planned.
“Appropriate precautionary measures must be taken to protect Namibians from being affected by this virus,” Geingob said.
Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Writing by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Frances Kerry and Mike Harrison