Borno State Government may have concluded plans to decongest internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) camp in the state, even as an index case of COVID-19 has been recorded.
The government, following the death of a person, who was later confirmed to have been affected by coronavirus, had traced and begun strategic testing for 99 persons he was believed to have had contact with.
A manhunt has been launched for others whom he might have had contact with.
Briefing the media in Maiduguri on Monday, the Deputy Governor and Chairman of Borno High Powered Response Team for the Control of COVID-19, Alhaji Usman Kadafur, said prior to the discovery of the index case, the state government had planned to decongest the IDP camps.
He said with the latest case, the plan would soon be concluded with the support of stakeholders in the humanitarian community.
He lamented that one case of COVID-19 disease was confirmed in Maiduguri on Sunday,19th April 2020.
“He was a 56 year old citizen of Borno who was brought in from Pulka with features of severe respiratory disease.
“He was managed in the UMTH but unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease (may his soul rest in peace).
“However nasal swab specimen was collected from the body, which was tested positive for neo-corona virus disease at the COVID-19 reference laboratories in the UMTH and validated by the NCDC.
“The remains of the body has been buried in line with standard protocol for disposal of infectious body.”
He revealed that: “All contacts of the diseased are being traced and necessary measures to prevent further spread has been put in place.
“To this point about 99 persons of interest have been traced and strategic testing instituted (35 in Pulka and 64 in Maiduguri).
“Furthermore, the organization he worked for in Pulka have been directed to provide line list, profile and quarantine all his contacts and submit same to the committee for action.
“Meanwhile, a team on surveillance and case management have been deployed to Pulka today (Monday) for further investigation and sample collection.”
He told the people of the state that COVID-19 disease was real, insisting that “no nation or people are immune. it is indeed a trial from Allah SWT and He alone will avert this trial from us.”
He cautioned that “as a people, we need to demonstrate strict adherence to well documented measures and advises to reduce the spread of the disease.
“People are advised to wash their hands with soap and water regularly, avoid over crowding and report any sick person to the healthcare workers, use hand sanitizers and practice.”
Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon had revealed that the confirmed victim of COVID-19 in Borno State had no travel history outside of the Northeast state, describing him as someone who made the ultimate sacrifice.
He said despite the risks, “this Nigerian health worker was devoting his life to treating vulnerable internally displaced persons who have lost everything during the conflict raging in the north-east.”
He said that aid organisations, under the lead of the World Health Organisation (WHO), were working closely with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Borno State Government, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to trace anyone whom the nurse might have been in contact with in Borno State, and to bolster measures to prevent the spread of the virus and protect IDPs and communities in Borno State.
He said, “I am very saddened to confirm the death of a health worker on 18 April who had contracted the new coronavirus disease COVID-19. Our sincerest condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues who are all deeply affected by the loss.
“The humanitarian community reaffirms it is working closely with Nigerian authorities. Together, all actors are doing their utmost to reinforce protection and prevention measures against COVID-19. Aid workers are following NCDC guidance and all staff that arrived from abroad before the airport shut down have gone into self-isolation.
“Humanitarian actors have adapted their way of working to prevent the spread of the virus. Quarantine facilities are being set up across the state by aid workers, in support of Borno State authorities, and particularly at all points of entry from neighbouring countries.
“A COVID-19 treatment facility and a testing laboratory have been established in Maiduguri and a second treatment facility is being developed. Humanitarian actors are installing hand-washing stations and ensuring supply of clean water in IDP camps and vulnerable communities, as well as distributing soap and chlorinated solution where water is not readily available.”
He however recalled that nearly eight million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, with many depending on assistance to survive.
He lamented that functional health facilities, especially in remote locations in Borno State, were scarce and over 3 million people urgently needed food assistance.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many areas in Nigeria, it is essential for the most vulnerable to continue receiving humanitarian aid, including water and soap or substitute solutions,” he stated.
He, however, added that: “Out of respect and consideration for the family and the IDPs, the humanitarian community in Nigeria is asking the general public, including the media, to refrain from sharing any COVID-19 related information that is not confirmed by the NCDC, the Ministry of Health or WHO.”
He warned that: “The spread of misinformation may put the vulnerable people and aid workers at risk.”