Nigeria

Mr Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, statement on the death of an aid worker from COVID-19

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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.

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 had no travel history outside of Borno State and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Aid organisations, under the lead of the World Health Organisation (WHO), are working closely with the National Center 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 may 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.

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.

Nearly 8 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. Functional health facilities, especially in remote locations in Borno State, are scarce and over 3 million people urgently need 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.

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. The spread of misinformation may put the vulnerable people and aid workers at risk.

For further information, please contact:
Eve SABBAGH, Head of Public Information, OCHA Nigeria, (+234) 9073430290, sabbaghe@un.org
Abiodun BANIRE, Public Information Officer, OCHA Nigeria, (+234) 7031718735, banire@un.org
OCHA press releases are available at unocha.org or reliefweb.int

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.