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April 4, 20204min680
1.5 million Borno IDPs at risk of contracting coronavirus – Aid Agency

An aid agency has warned that about 1.5 million
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) different camps in Borno State risk contracting the novel coronavirus if urgent steps were not taken.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) gave the alarming warning on Saturday in a
statement issued by Scot Hamilton, Borno’s Communication Manager.
“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, malaria, malnutrition and water-borne diseases will not relent,” he warned, adding that about
1.5m IDPs in Borno now face the spectre of deadly virus that has so far claimed over 52, 000 lives globally.
While lamenting state of IDP camps, Hamilton said: “Many live in vastly overcrowded camps with poor water and sanitation facilities,
limited supplies of hygiene essentials such as soap and water.
“There are also no individual space at all with the crowed makeshifts and tents,” noting  that functioning health infrastructure in Borno is
scarce, and the capacity to refer patients is extremely limited.
He further disclosed that as many people are already vulnerable to outbreaks of disease, essential humanitarian assistance must be
maintained.
According to him, water and sanitation facilities must be improved in IDP camps; and frontline health workers on whom the population will
depend.
He added that they must also have access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
He said already, many IDPs suffer from illnesses endemic to overcrowded settlements, such as water-borne diseases and respiratory tract infections like pneumonia, which has been identified as a significant threat when coupled with COVID-19.
On hazards of contracting COVID-19, he said: “It has a devastating effect on healthcare systems, economies and populations worldwide.
“Coronavirus also poses a substantial threat in Borno state,” noting that even if COVID-19 were not present in Nigeria, the need for humanitarian assistance in state; could still massive.
While warning on outbreak, he added: “In just over a month, rainy season will commence, bringing with it a surge in cases of malaria and
malnutrition.
“In Maiduguri, Ngala, Pulka and Gwoza, our hospitals run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and during rainy season they will all be
full.”
Hamilton disclosed that last year, the MSF teams treated more than 10,000 patients for malnutrition in Borno and more than 33,000
confirmed cases of malaria.
According to him, over 40,000 patients were also admitted to MSF’s emergency rooms.
He further warned the effect that COVID-19 will have on patients must not be underestimated.
“If the chaos caused by this pandemic is allowed to curtail humanitarian assistance, the results will be catastrophic,” he said.
On preventive measures, he said: “Our priority in Nigeria; is to maintain our operations which save thousands of lives every year, and to protect our patients and staff.
“To do this; our medical and logistical teams have reinforced infection prevention protocols, informed local communities on the best
prevention measures against COVID-19, by installed hand washing points in local communities, established isolation zones and adapted our triage processes.

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