Shocking Figures Revealed By Mogadishu Mayor Indicates 500 Deaths In Last 2 Weeks
The cases of coronavirus in Somalia could be higher than reported. Multiple interviews by medics, funeral workers and gravediggers have reported an unprecedented surge of deaths in recent days amid growing fears that official counts of Covid-19 deaths reflect only a fraction of the virus’s toll in Africa.
The fears have been reinforced by an announcement by Mogadishu Mayor Omar Filish who said in the past two weeks there has been a surge in burials with the death toll hitting 500, with highest recorded being 49 on a day, lowest being 22.
So far Somalia has announced an official total of 601 confirmed cases and 28 deaths. But evidence from medics and burial workers in Mogadishu, suggest the number of deaths could be many times higher.
Questions now linger as to whether government officials have deliberately played down the figures or do not have the capacity to trace cases outside medical facilities.
Medical officials admit that many deaths are simply not reported to authorities.
“We have a limited capacity to record all deaths. We are unable to reach every home. When a patient dies, relatives hire a private ambulance or a truck and they bury the body. People are reluctant to share the information and therefore we are missing numbers,” Dr Mohamed Ali, a health officer who leads the Covid-19 response team at Mogadishu’s Martini hospital, said.
Dahir Mohamud, a funeral worker at Geed-Timir graveyard in Mogadishu, said he had dealt with more than 30 bodies in under five days, 10 times the usual number. Almost all were elderly men who died after a short illness.
Abdullahi Mohamed Jama, a gravedigger in Mogadishu’s Calamada graveyard, said his team dug 21 to 22 graves on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday last week, around four times the usual total.
“Previously we used to dig graves on demand. These days we don’t wait for calls because there are many deaths every day. All these deaths are illness-related and they are elderly people. It is very sensitive to talk about Covid-19 and relatives will only tell us it is urgent death,” Abdullahi Dhere said.