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Burkina Faso: Recovered from coronavirus, journalist Issaka Lingani says he was luckier than others

In his sixties, Issaka Lingani is a journalist and director of the weekly publication Opinion in Ouagadougou. He is well-known in Burkina Faso for his political positions, which he shares during television debates. He is also known for testing positive for COVID-19.

In April, Mr. Lingani made the announcement on his Facebook page with a bit of humour. He believes he contracted the virus when traveling back from Abidjan. Maybe at the airport. Maybe on the plane.

As of July 15, there have been 1,037 positive cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso and 53 deaths. At least 880 people had recovered and 102 were being treated.

Mr. Lingani first suspected he was sick when suffering from fever, headache, insomnia, and a great feeling of fatigue. He thought first of malaria. Then dengue fever. But those tests came back negative.

Then he decided to contact the team in charge of COVID-19 to find out for certain. He explains: “At my first call, they told me that I did not have COVID-19. But because I was still sick, I called them again to insist. I asked other people, including my primary care doctor, to call them too.”

After three days, the medical team finally arrived at Mr. Lingani’s home. He recalls, “They came with an impressive team. They disinfected themselves first before putting on their coveralls to take the nasal sample.”

After waiting for two days, Mr. Lingani was informed by telephone that his test was positive. He says, “The same day, another team arrived, this time by ambulance, to take me to the hospital, siren blaring, which caught the ears of all of my neighbours.”

He was given a meal around 6 p.m. while awaiting his first dose of medicine at the hospital. He says he refused it and demanded to be treated first.

He received his first dose of chloroquine and azithromycin at about 10 p.m.

His hospital visit lasted 10 days: five at the Tengandogo hospital and five at the Princess Sarah Clinic, the two centres in Ouagadougou that treat COVID-19 patients. He laments the conditions in the hospitals in terms of equipment and material. He notes that basic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as handwashing, cannot be respected at the hospital due to a lack of soap and alcohol-based gel, and he took the opportunity to inform the Minister of Health of these facts when the Minister visited patients.

But the medical teams at both hospitals impressed Mr. Lingani with their devotion to patient care.

Mr. Lingani admits that he was much luckier than many other patients he saw suffering from coronavirus at the hospital. He says that, apart from two or three patients who may have been in their sixties like him, the rest were really young people with severe cases of coronavirus.

Now that he is recovered and back to his regular routine, Mr. Lingani says there is no difference in how his neighbours or colleagues are treating him. But he knows others who have recovered and who are facing stigma: neighbours haven’t visited since the ambulance passed looking for the sick.

This article was produced with the support of the Government of Canada through the project “Promoting health, sexual and reproductive rights, and nutrition among adolescents in Burkina Faso (ADOSANTE).” The ADOSANTE project is led by a consortium including Helen Keller International, Marie Stopes-Burkina Faso (MS/BF), Farm Radio International, the Centre d’information de Conseils et de Documentation sur le Sida et la Tuberculeuse (CICDoc), and the Réseau Afrique Jeunesse Santé et Développement (RAJS).