MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, June 1, 2020/ — As part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak in north-east Nigeria, Borno State, WHO in collaboration with partners, has launched a campaign tagged “COVID-19 Heroes Campaign”, to recognize and designate survivors as heroes and heroines.
Launching the initiative on 29 May 2020 in Maiduguri, the Borno state Deputy Governor and Chairman of the State Task Force on COVID-19 Response, Alhaji Usman Umar Kadafur said that the campaign aims to demystify and de-stigmatize COVID-19 survivors by declaring them heroes and heroines of a disease that has claimed 25 lives in Borno. As at 28 May there are 257 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Borno and 8915 in Nigeria.
“In Borno state, where insurgency has caused enormous internal displacements for many people, loss of jobs and lives for others, it is only heroes and heroines that can survive a combination of these life-threatening conditions coupled with COVID-19 infection. This is the reason why the government recognizes the COVID-19 survivors as heroes and heroines”, says Alhaji Kadafur.
The Deputy Governor, Alhaji Kadafur adds that, “You have become the beacon of truth that COVID-19 is real. You have become the symbol of hope that COVID-19 can be survived even as the preventive vaccine is underway. You have proved that our isolation centres are active and functional. You have defeated COVID-19. For that, I declare you “Heroes and Heroines”. Congratulations.”
Notwithstanding, he cautioned the survivors that despite their current negative status, they still need to observe preventive etiquettes including regular hand washing under running water with soap or use of hand sanitizers, social distancing of at least two metres, covering of cough and sneezes, using face mask and avoiding crowded areas.
On his part, Dr Musa Audu the WHO State Coordinator in Borno, reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting the state to rapidly control the COVID-19 outbreak which has already affected eight Local Government Areas (LGAs).
“Although, Borno state has confirmed 257 cases, including 25 deaths since the index case was reported on 19 April 2020, WHO is coordinating partners’ response as well as providing technical and financial support to the Ministry of Health to actively search for suspected cases of COVID-19 in the communities,” says Dr Audu.
Presently, WHO is supporting local healthcare workers to trace contacts, manage confirmed cases on isolation and screen travelers at 28 entry points into Borno state. In addition, the Organization is supporting the State to implement risk communication and surveillance activities, strengthen logistics, provide mental healthcare services to people in need and build the capacities of local healthcare workers. “Since the beginning of the response in Borno state, WHO has built the capacity of more than 1000 healthcare workers including medical doctors, pharmacists, epidemiologists, nurses, health education officers and community health extension workers,” Dr. Audu adds.
Borno state is at the centre of a decade-old insurgency in north-east Nigeria which has claimed several lives and displaced millions of people internally.