COVID-19 Pandemic: Nigeria Hits 58 Deaths, 1932 Cases. In Serbia, Thousands of Elderly Citizens are in Isolation

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

With 204 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, Nigeria is now having a tally of 1932 confirmed positive cases of the virus.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which made this public also pointed out that the country recorded 319 recoveries and 58 deaths.

Globally, there are a total of 3,303,304 confirmed cases, 1,038,440 recoveries and 233,785deaths. 

At the moment, the US is testing an antiviral drug called remdivisir for the treatment of the rampaging virus.

US President, Donald Trump, says he has directed the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track the approval of remdivisir for treatment of people infected with the virus.

However, among the 204 new cases in Nigeria, NCDC reports that Kano overtook Lagos with 80 new cases, while Lagos, the country’s commercial capital had 42.

Others are, Gombe 12, Bauchi and Sokoto nine cases each, Borno and Edo seven new cases, Rivers and Ogun six, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa four new cases each, Kaduna three, Oyo, Delta and Nasarawa two new cases each, Ondo and Kebbi states have one new case each.

In the meantime, the new reality of COVID-19 response in Serbia is leaving thousands of citizens in isolation.

The government called for movement restrictions to slow the transmission of the disease, with special precautions in place for elderly persons, who face serious risks if they fall ill with the virus.

People over age 65 in urban areas, and over age 70 in smaller cities, are prohibited from engaging in habits like morning walks, coffee with neighbours or visits with relatives. 

This is coming six weeks after Serbia declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic. The country has more than 7,700 confirmed cases of the disease. 

Natasa Todorovic of the Red Cross of Serbia says, “we know the psychological effects of isolation can have multiple negative effects, such as fear, nervousness, sadness and guilt.” 

In response, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a helpline for older persons, which provides information, psychological first aid and psychosocial support. 

Elderly persons with specific needs – such as medicine or food – receive referrals to volunteer groups or social services that can assist. Callers can also receive legal advice.

Within hours of launching, the helpline started receiving calls, with many people looking for information, reassurance and a sympathetic ear.

“With so many stress factors that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as fear of infection, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, stigma, financial challenges, having someone to talk to is very much needed”, says Ms. Todorovic.

Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and a volunteer at the helpline every Friday from noon to 3p.m, Brankica Jankovic, says “the majority of them complained about feeling lonely, even experiencing anxiety attacks, and they find separation from their children and especially their grandchildren to be the hardest.”

Adding, she said, “they also ask for advice for prolonging medical prescriptions, availability of home care services, and some of them are worried about their friends with dementia who leave their homes with no knowledge that now they are breaking the law’’, noting that this information was shared with the Ministry of Interior.

This helpline is one of several UNFPA-supported hotlines run by the Red Cross.

Other such hotlines offer psychosocial support, legal advice by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, advice by a professional social worker on accessing social welfare services, and psychological first aid provided in English to foreign citizens in Serbia struggle to receive such services in the Serbian language.

All these hotlines are now also providing critical information about COVID-19 and measures taken to slow its spread.

Older callers are reporting a variety of challenges.

Nada was one such caller. She said she is struggling to care for her adult son, who is living with a disability. “I am tired of everything in my 73 years of age… I have been fighting with my son’s cerebral palsy and autism, and now I have to fight corona. I cannot go out, stand in line, leave him alone, wait for our pension”, she said. “I am tired.”

Many others are living without family support or with little income. Obtaining essential hygiene supplies and other materials has also been a challenge due to the movement restrictions.

UNFPA is providing parcels of hygiene supplies, which will be distributed by the Red Cross, to approximately 3,000 older persons from vulnerable populations. 

These supplies also include information on maintaining physical and mental health, printed in a clear, easy-to-understand language design.

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