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Stigma and weak systems hamper the Somali COVID-19 response

A soldier walks past a COVID-19 banner at Sector One headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by: AMISOM Photo / Steven Candia
Photo Credit: AMISOM Photo / Steven Candia

NAIROBI — In mid-June, Yurub and her family fell ill with what they believe was COVID-19. They were coughing, had fevers, sore throats, and body pains.

When people in their community in the city of Erigavo, in northeast Somaliland, found out, she said they labeled them as sinners, saying that COVID-19 had befallen the family as divine punishment. Community members wanted nothing to do with them. Relatives stopped communicating with them. The family felt so targeted that they didn’t go to the health facility to seek care over fears of how the community would react to them there.

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