Dear Church partners,
Greetings from a very hot Chad! I hope you’re all doing ok under the current unprecedented circumstances you find yourselves in.
I wanted to update you all on the situation regarding coronavirus in Chad, as some of you have been kindly in touch asking me.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading the BBC news in awe at how the virus has been spreading in Europe and the UK and the measures that have been put in place by various governments to try and limit its spread. Various countries around Chad registered their first cases in the last few weeks. Up until last Thursday (19th March) Chad remained, thankfully, unaffected. However that all changed last Thursday, when the first case was confirmed here in a foreign traveller. Before this date, at G2 Hospital we had already put in place handwashing stations at the hospital entrances and temperature screening of everyone entering our doors. The government had already banned meetings of more than 50 people, had already decided to shut the international airport to passenger planes for at least two weeks and had already decided to close the land borders (although foodstuffs are allowed over the border from Cameroon, which is only a few kilometres outside of N’Djamena).
Since the first case was confirmed in Chad last Thursday, the government has been extremely quick to put in place many more measures to limit its potential spread. As of now (23rd March) there have been no more confirmed cases. All schools, universities, bars and restaurants are closed. Minibus taxis are banned. Motorbike taxis are only allowed a maximum of two people on them including the driver. Private vehicles are only allowed a maximum of 4 people inside including the driver. All churches and mosques are closed. There are many announcements on the radio regarding washing your hands regularly and minimising contact with others outside of the home. There have been healthcare workers driving around the city in vehicles with a loud speaker giving public health advice on preventing the spread of the virus. There may also be more measures implemented in the coming days. Many hospitals, including G2, have banned patients having visitors.
All these things are great and I applaud them. However the knock-on effect on daily life is already being felt. Minibus taxis have been banned because they carry many passengers. They’ve decided to keep running but to only carry 3 passengers to be within the government’s rules. This has meant that the price each person has to pay has increased. This has had a knock-on effect to the price of things like fresh vegetables at the local Guinebor market, as the market sellers who go into N’Djamena to the suppliers early in the morning have to spend more on transport and so the price of the vegetables they’re selling has gone up. Some patients’ relatives, not understanding the situation completely, are angry that they can’t visit their family members inside the hospital and that’s already creating tension at the hospital gates for our guard.
On a practical level at the hospital, as in the rest of the world, finding enough facemasks for all our staff is potentially going to be a problem in the future (we have sufficient in stock right now). Who knows the knock-on effect to the medication supply chain too in the future too…..
On a personal level, I’m doing fine. It’s great to have the bigger mission worker team here now for support during this challenging period. Some of you have asked if I will be returning to the UK because of the virus. My answer to that is an emphatic “no”. I have no underlying medical conditions and so if I get ill with the virus, I should recover in time with no issues. G2 hospital has a vital role to play in continuing to provide healthcare for the local population. The arrival of the one confirmed coronavirus case in Chad hasn’t stopped patients with the normal myriad of other illnesses or accidents from coming through our doors. Hospital life has to carry on as normal, as far as we possibly can achieve it, and so my role here in both the pharmacy and on the management team continues.
I’m grateful for all of your support in various ways during this time. I’m praying for you all in the UK as you adjust to this ‘new normal’ of life for this season. May God grant us all the wisdom, grace and patience required to ride out this pandemic in the safest and most sensible way possible.