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31 Mar 2020 | 09:24 PM UTC

Burundi: First COVID-19 cases confirmed March 31 /update 3

Burundi confirms first COVID-19 cases on March 31; further spread of disease likely over near term



According to international media sources, Burundi's health ministry has confirmed the country's first two cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Tuesday, March 31. The two patients are Burundian nationals who reportedly entered the country from Rwanda, and one of whom had previously traveled to Dubai (UAE). The patients are currently located at the Bumerec Hospital in Bujumbura.

The government has implemented several measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the country. All international commercial flights at Melchior Ndadaye International Airport (BJM), except for cargo, medical evacuation, humanitarian, and diplomatic flights were suspended for seven days on Saturday, March 28. A suspension on all visa applications remains in place until further notice and visas will only be renewed for individuals already in the country. Additional screening and quarantine measures are also in effect at all land border crossings.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.