Preliminary findings of COVID-19 infection in health workers in Somalia: A reason for concern

Authors: Abdulkadir Abdi, Abdulrazaq Yusuf Ahmed, Mohamed Abdulmunim, Mary Joan Karanja, Abera Solomon, Farid Muhammad, Mengistu Kumlachew, Majdouline Obtel, Sk Md Mamunur Rahman Malik

International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2020


Background: Somalia, a country with a long history of instability, has a fragile healthcare system that is consistently understaffed. A large number of healthcare workers (HCWs) have become infected during the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Objective: This report presents the preliminary findings of COVID-19 infection in Somali HCWs, the first of such information from Somalia.

Methods: This preliminary retrospective study analysed available data on infection rates among Somali HCWs.

Results: As of 30 September 2020, 3700 cases of COVID-19, including 98 deaths, had been reported in Somalia; 191 (5%) of these cases were HCWs. During the first 180 days of the outbreak, 311 HCWs were tested for COVID-19 and 191 tested positive (positivity rate: 61%). During the epidemic’s peak, HCWs represented at least 5% of cases. Of the 191 infected cases, 52 (27%) were doctors, 63 (33%) were nurses, seven (4%) were laboratory technicians, and 36% were other staff.

Conclusion: More information must be sought to put measures in place to protect the health and safety of HCWs in Somalia’s already understaffed and fragile healthcare system.

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