(ERGO) – Eight reporters working for public and private media houses in Puntland state of Somalia have contracted COVID19 over the past week, according to local media representatives.
One of those who has fallen ill with the virus, Khadra Yusuf Mohamed, a reporter with state media, spoke with Radio Ergo online about her surprise at the diagnosis.
“I did not expect it all. I thought it was the normal flu. Even when I noticed that I was losing my sense of smell, I was still thinking that this was due to the congestion that comes with flu,” she said.
Khadra said she has taken sick leave from work to quarantine. Her relatives are taking care of her and her baby in two separate rooms in their house until she recovers.
Some of the reporters have been describing their symptoms on social media.
Ibrahim Muse Dahran, a freelance journalist, recently recovered from COVID19. He told Radio Ergo that journalists are part of the wider community so it should not be surprising that infections among the media have also gone up.
“This disease does not differentiate among people – you could be an ordinary person, a journalist, a member of parliament, or a minister,” he said. “My advice to everyone is to protect themselves before this disease imprisons you.”
The chairman of the Media Association of Puntland (MAP), Mohamed Dahir Aynsane, warned that journalists reporting on the disease needed to remain careful about protecting themselves as well as others.
The Puntland Ministry of Health announced on 4 October that cases were rising after 147 positive cases resulted from 665 people tested.
Dr Dahir Muse Ali, an advisor with the ministry’s COVID19 task force, attributed the rise to the cold season and public patterns of behaviour.
“The disease appears to be back and it is spreading at a much faster rate than in previous months. We are really dismayed and we urge people to take precautions, including reducing social interactions, wearing masks and washing their hands often. We have entered the cold season and the virus seems to spread more in this season,” Dr Dahir said.
He added that they expected a further rise in infections and would double their efforts to raise community awareness around the disease. If the upward trend of new infections continues, the authorities would consider reimposing lockdown measures.
“It is possible to bring back the lockdown in the coming months,” said Dr Dahir. “We are very concerned and we will do whatever is necessary.”