The Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA) says that 11 Nigerians have so far died of COVID-19 in that country.
Mr. Adetola Olubajo, President of NUSA, said in a statement from Pretoria on Wednesday that the COVID-19 deaths were for Gauteng Province alone, adding that it was yet to get figures from eight other provinces in South Africa.
“At the last count, 11 Nigerians have died from COVID-19 in Gauteng Province alone. I have attended the funeral of some of them,’’ he said.
According to Olubajo, the disease is real and has devastated several countries of the world.
He said the biggest challenge was the belief by some Nigerians in South Africa that the disease was not real.
“Many people believe that COVID-19 pandemic is political and fake and that they are just seeing figures.
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“On the contrary, we have seen quite a number of our people that have died from the disease in South Africa.
“Another challenge we have is stigmatisation and refusal of infected people to disclose their status.
“We have provided a channel through which the identities of infected people will be protected and we give them the much-needed support.
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“For instance, in case someone can’t get an ambulance, as soon as we get such a call, we ensure the person gets the ambulance,’’ he said.
He said that the Union was encouraging Nigerians to adopt all precautionary and safety measures put in place by the South African government for their safety.
Olubajo also said that the Union was working with a team of Nigerian and South African health professionals in the frontline of various hospitals to assist Nigerians with information.
“We have put in place a mechanism to reach out to many Nigerians in South Africa with information with the assistance of our health professionals,’’ he said.
He said the union had provided COVID-19 palliatives to Nigerians but preference was being given to vulnerable people like single mothers, students, petty traders, and artisans who earn a daily living on the streets.
“We are monitoring their progress and how they are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic economically,’’ Olubajo said.
He added that the union was also planning to link up with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to as much as possible get adequate information.