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The Ethiopian government on Wednesday announced an updated travel advisory, which necessitates an African Union (AU) COVID-19 pass for entry and exit.

According to the updated travel advisory, all travelers exiting, entering or transiting via Ethiopia are required from June 7 to present a digital negative COVID-19 certificates at all ports of entry based on the AU’s Trusted Travel Platform and the UNDP-sponsored Global Haven Program.

In October 2020, the AU officially launched its Trusted Travel Platform as part of the overall Trusted Travel Initiative.

The platform provides information on travel requirements at the departure and destination ports and access to a list of government-approved laboratories for COVID-19 testing in African countries. It allows travelers to upload their COVID-19 test results online for easy verification by port health and travel officials and helps with the detection of forged certificates.

The ministry said paper certificates shall cease to be acceptable and only AU Trusted Travel (TT) or Global Haven COVID-19 test certificates shall be allowed for exit, transit and entry purposes starting from July 1.

The requirement for digital certificates has become necessary due to the alarming increase of fake health documents and rising incidents of forgery detected since the onset of the pandemic. Travelers wishing to exit Ethiopia are also advised to visit an authorized laboratory to take a COVID-19 test and be issued with TT codes that can be verified by airlines and port health authorities across the continent, the ministry said.

The AU TT requirement applies to both categories of travelers — those traveling within Africa and those traveling from countries where there are labs integrated into the TT system.

The complementary Global Haven Platform supports travelers coming from outside Africa from places where labs have not currently integrated into the TT system, the ministry said. The related enforcement will commence on June 7 and the deadline for full compliance is set for July 1.

As of Wednesday evening, Ethiopia registered a total of 272,036 COVID-19 cases and 4,178 deaths, according to the ministry. Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, has so far reported the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the East Africa region.

It is among the African countries the hardest hit by COVID-19, following South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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