(ERGO) – Cases of COVID19 are rising in many parts of the country including in Lasanod, in Somaliland’s Sool region, where ministry of health figures show that 95 people contracted the disease between 19 October and 17 November and 11 died. However, the reality on the ground is likely to be far worse than the official figures reveal, as few people go to get tested and there is little observance of preventive measures.
Radio Ergo’s Lasanod correspondent, Farah Mohamoud Dubbad, caught COVID19 in October and described his personal experiences with the virus.
“My health is good now, but I still feel some symptoms such as coughing although it’s less now. I have been able to taste food over the past two days, although I still can’t smell anything,” he told Radio Ergo in a phone interview. “I consulted with others who had the disease and they told me it also took them days before the symptoms fully disappeared.”
Farah self-isolated at home after feeling a high fever and chills on 20 October, suspecting it could be COVID19. After two days he went to Lasanod general hospital to get tested. The first test results showed negative, but a second test using advanced equipment was positive for COVID19.
“I was advised to quarantine myself at home and drink lots of water and use painkillers. But on 25 October, I lost sense of my surroundings and lost consciousness. The family rushed me to hospital, and I regained consciousness on 29 October,” he said.
Farah told Radio Ergo that he is planning to take the COVID19 vaccine after fully recovering. According to the hospital management, there has been an increase in the number of people coming forward to receive the vaccine in the past three months. This seems to be linked to the experiences of witnessing firsthand the sickness or deaths of loved ones.
However, few people appear to be observing the prevention guidelines in Lasanod. Farah suspects he caught the virus when he offered a lift to a female health worker he knew from the hospital. The woman told him she had symptoms and was not sure if it was COVID19.
Farah said he attended a recent cultural event, where he was the only person wearing a mask among an estimated 60 people, including elderly people, with no observance of social distancing.
“I urge the public to take precautions against this deadly disease. I also urge them to test if they experience the symptoms and follow the doctor’s advice if they are diagnosed positive. I also urge them to quarantine themselves at home,” he said, recounting how he had to prevent his family members from entering his room whilst he was sick.
Lasanod general hospital is the only local facility dealing with COVID19 patients. It provides testing and treatment free of charge, although supplies of oxygen are limited. A tank of oxygen costs $30 and is purchased in Garowe.
The hospital is supported by funds raised by a local volunteer youth group that collects money from local people and the diaspora community. The group contributes around $10,000 a month to the hospital’s running costs.