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New IHME COVID-19 Forecasts for Ethiopia Show Nearly 8,000 People Dying by November 1, But Mask Usage Could Reduce Deaths by 65%

Concern that as nation eases mandates, ‘this vicious virus will spread rapidly throughout the country, especially in Addis Ababa’

SEATTLE, Aug. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington is forecasting 7,872 people (with a range of 1,115 to 31,971) will die from COVID-19 in Ethiopia by November 1, if the country continues to ease social distancing policies.

However, mask use can help to control transmission and provide protection, said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. The Institute modeled a high level of mask use, with 95% of the population wearing masks in public, and projects this would reduce deaths by 65%, to 2,790 people (with a range of 675 to 9,341).

“Ethiopia is still early on in the epidemic and we are not yet projecting a peak in deaths, though I am concerned that as the nation eases prevention mandates, this vicious virus will spread rapidly throughout the country, especially in Addis Ababa,” Murray said. “Steps to reverse this trend are imperative to contain the virus and save lives.”

The forecast assumes the nation imposes social distancing mandates for six weeks at the point when deaths reach 8 per million people. However, the country is not predicted to reach that threshold before November 1.

The forecasts also predict the need for hospital beds and ICU beds. Ethiopia is expected to run out of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in early August if the epidemic continues its current trajectory.

“Ethiopia and other African nations are facing a difficult situation,” said Murray. “Mask use, increased testing, and other measures are important tools that can help stop the virus from spreading, particularly among people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and others.”

The new projections reflect the growth of the epidemic throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, 34,757 deaths (with a range of 13,263 to 64,199) are expected through November 1 if social distancing mandates are employed, and Kenya is forecast to see 5,613 deaths (1,613 to 18,493).

The new death projections and other information are available at

IHME wishes to warmly acknowledge the support of these and others who have made our COVID-19 estimation efforts possible. Thank you.

About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health.

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