Health

VIPs, hospitals’ disregard for NCDC rules worries govt

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FG threatens to close private hospitals treating the rich, others
• Patients’ refusal to disclose travel history endangers our lives – NMA
• COVID-19 may spread to all states, warns NCDC, cases reach 442

Niyi Odebode, Olufemi Atoyebi, Dayo Ojerinde, Tobi Aworinde, Tukur Muntari and Daud Olatunji

Federal and state governments are bothered by some very important persons’ increasing disregard for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s protocol on COVID-19, The PUNCH has learnt.

It was gathered on Thursday that most of the individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, who patronised private hospitals, contrary to government’s directive, were prominent persons.

At its daily media briefing on Thursday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said government would shut unaccredited private hospitals secretly treating COVID-19 patients.

Among others, the NCDC’s protocol on COVID-19 requires anybody that comes from countries with high burden of the virus to be in isolation for 14 days.

Besides, if such individuals show symptoms of the virus, they are not expected to seek treatment at unaccredited hospitals, but contact the NCDC.

Also unaccredited hospitals that get such patients are required to refer them to health facilities approved for treating COVID-19.

A top government official, who confided in The PUNCH, said the task force and other agencies were worried about some prominent persons’ disregard for extant rules on COVID-19.

The source cited the Kano State index case, a retired ambassador; a Kwara State accountant, the late Mudeen Obanimomo, and some instances in Lagos, where rich suspected COVID-19 patients went to private hospitals.

He also said the Lagos State Government was aware that many residents of highbrow areas such as Ikoyi, Banana Island and Victoria Island shunned government’s directive on self-isolation when they came from abroad.

The government official stated, “In Lagos, we have had some people, who after coming from abroad, showed symptoms of COVID-19. Because they were ashamed to go to the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, they went to private hospitals. They later headed for the IDH or the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja when it was too late.”

Recall that a chartered accountant and auditor, Obanimom, who returned from the United Kingdom, died of COVID-19-related complications at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital earlier this month.

A professor of medicine at the UITH, Prof. Alakija Salami, who brought the deceased to the hospital, had allegedly claimed that the man was suffering food poisoning and it was on that basis that he was admitted.

The UITH authorities subsequently suspended the professor and isolated 25 medical workers that came in contact with the late accountant, when his travel history and other facts became known.

A few days ago, a former ambassador, who was the first COVID-19 case in Kano State, allegedly violated the NCDC’s directive on self-isolation after coming abroad.

We will close private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients – Kano govt

Commenting on the issue, the Special Adviser to the Kano State Governor on Media, Alhaji Salihu Yakasai, said the state would close any private hospital treating COVID-19 patients.

In an interview with The PUNCH, he said, “Henceforth, if any private hospital treats COVID-19 patients, the government has no option but to close the facility down.”

He said although patients with coronavirus symptoms might not tell hospitals the truth, that should not be a reason to treat patients with the symptoms.
Kano index case hid travel history, attended parties – Doctor

But a medical doctor, James King, who had contact with the index case, said the patient hid his travel history
The medical doctors and others, who had contact with the index case, tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday.

King, in a Facebook post on Thursday, narrated how the index case arrived at the hospital and was later taken for isolation by security agents.

The Kano-based doctor explained that the patient had wilfully withheld information about his recent travel history and COVID-19 test, He added that the index case had attended several public events.

According to him, the index case visited the hospital on April 10 with complaints of fever and general body weakness, mouth dryness and loss of appetite.

He said, “It was unknown to us that he was alleged to have travelled abroad too before returning to my resident state (Kano) via Abuja, travelling by road. While travelling by road, he stayed briefly in Kaduna before arriving in my resident state on March 25, 2020.

“He denied all this travel history to us. He also denied having the pertinent coronavirus symptoms; breathlessness and cough. He hid the fact that he had been to several medical outlets since his return to the state.

“And importantly, he did not provide information that his samples were taken by the NCDC for COVID-19 testing before coming to us.”

King added that the patient claimed to have felt ill for a few days but denied symptoms of cough, breathlessness or palpitations.

“Of course, he denied all the above in order for him to have our medical care. Putting us all and many others at high risk of the novel pandemic. Many other medical questions were asked and documented.

“He was further evaluated, examined and admitted into a private room upstairs on Friday 10th, April 2020 about 7pm by my boss. He had contact with two doctors (my boss and me), three nurses and one non-medical member of staff.

“We also learnt that, during his illness, before coming to us, he was attending Friday mosque prayers, naming ceremonies and other gatherings.”

King stated that the following day, health officials with massive police presence staged a “Nollywood-like dramatic entrance” into the hospital, while a major road around the facility was blocked and made a security restricted area.

He said, “The officials told us that we had a man in our facility that had just tested positive for COVID-19. There was an order from the governor of the state to lock down the hospital immediately to prevent further spread.

“The patient was whisked away to a quarantine centre on the outskirts of the state. We were placed in isolation too in our hospital facility. Samples were taken from our staff for COVID-19 testing.

“For many days, we could not physically reach our families or anyone. At last, the results came out yesterday afternoon, April 15, 2020 and it was negative for all of us.”

He added that they had yet to be released from isolation.

Private hospitals treating patients will be shut, FG warns

But the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said private hospitals treating COVI-19 patients secretly would be shut.

Ehanire spoke during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, where he also advised against physical contacts with grandparents who were vulnerable to coronavirus.

He said it was unfortunate that a medical doctor (in Lagos) died of the virus after contracting it.

He stated that it underscored the risk involved in treating people infected with COVID-19 at an unauthorised medical facility.

Ehanire said, “Quite unfortunately, the latest fatality in Lagos is a medical professional. I want to express my condolences to the family. This highlights the risk to health workers in this COVID-19 response.

“Patients with mild symptoms are still very highly infectious, and mild symptoms in one person could be deadly infection in another. That is why we recommend the suspension of close contact between grandchildren and grandparents at this time.

“Our valuable health workers are urged to adhere to all government instructions and regulations. Always utilise personal protective equipment; maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19; and protect yourselves, your loved ones and your colleagues.

“I shall use this opportunity to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of people who have COVID-19 outside of accredited health facilities. We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality.

“Private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat this highly infectious disease. Practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.”

The minister said that the next phase of the PTF strategy in its effort to curb the spread of the virus would focus on community testing.

While addressing complaints from health workers in some hospitals that PPE was inadequate, the minister said that it was important to manage the national stockpile of the equipment because of the inability of foreign manufacturers to produce the materials.

Explaining procedure for discharging patients from the isolation centres, Ehanire said it varied from one patient to another. He stressed that it was important that a patient to be discharged must be tested twice and the result must be negative.

NCDC advises against stigmatisation

At the briefing, the Director General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said a major hurdle to achieving the set goal of the fight against COVID-19 was stigmatisation of infected persons.

He warned that it would be difficult to stop the spread and reopen the economy if those infected with the virus were chased into hiding because of the stigmatisation they were subjected to in society.

Face mask wearing to be enforced

On the use of masks in places where physical distancing was not possible, Ihekweazu said the use of masks could be enforced to ensure that the virus was not spread.

He stated, “On the material for mask, a virus is a tiny particle so none of the materials will completely protect you. But on the balance of evidence, it is better to wear something. If you are transmitting the virus, it (mask) reduces the transmission by 50 to 60 per cent.”

Inter-state travellers spreading COVID-19, FG raises the alarm

The task force also raised the alarm that persons travelling from one state to the other were spreading COVID-19.

The National Coordinator in the fight against COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the media briefing, stated that people were being smuggled in trucks out of Lagos.

He said, “We have noticed that community spread is now being traced to people travelling across state borders. We need to try and restrict our movements in order to stop the spread of coronavirus infection.

“This is particularly pertinent with regard to the news of people being smuggled in trucks out of Lagos, which is quite concerning to us.”

FG urges Nigerian manufacturers to produce face masks

The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, urged local garment makers to produce face masks.

According to him, garment factories and tailors should starting producing face masks using local fabrics.

The SGF also urged everyone to exercise patience in communicating with the law enforcement agents assigned to ensure compliance with the presidential orders, saying their presence on the roads is for the protection of all.

Patients not disclosing travel history endangering our members – NMA

Commenting on attitudes of some VIPs, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Francis Faduyile, said patients that refused to disclose their travel history were endangering lives of doctors and other people around them.

Faduyile, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said patients who refused to disclose their travel history and other necessary information would not receive the best treatment.

He stated, “You know that doctors are not magicians, and there is no way they might get the full benefits of treatment of patients if they don’t have the full history.

“What it can only portend is that it is possible the doctors don’t get the real diagnosis and will be trying to take care of that patient and unfortunately, the patient may not get the best of treatment.

“Also, the patient may serve as a risk to the doctor because he may not know that the patient is having COVID-19. It is a risk to the patient, and everybody around him,” Faduyile said.

Late Lagos doctor attended to COVID-19 positive Dubai returnee – LUTH

Facts emerged on Thursday how Dr Emeka Chugbo, died after treating a COVID-19 patient in a private hospital in Lagos.

Recall that The PUNCH on Thursday reported that the 51-year-old died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital on Wednesday.

The Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of LUTH, Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, in a statement said the Chugbo was the first doctor to die of COVID-19 in Lagos.

“Chugbo was a private medical practitioner in Lagos until his death. He had trained as a resident in LUTH about 20 years ago. He was brought to LUTH on account of COVID-19 infection in the evening of Sunday, April 12, 2020.

“He had a history of contact with a returnee from Dubai who died a few days after the contact and was later discovered to be COVID-19 positive. Chugbo was admitted immediately and commenced on treatment in our isolation unit. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated two days after admission.

“The doctor was confirmed dead in the early hours of Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Our hearts are with his family at this trying time and also with the medical community as a whole following this painful loss. It is a very sad development for us all,” Adeyemo said.

Also a source, who did not want to be quoted, told one of our correspondents, that Chugbo worked at a hospital in Amuwo Odofin.

NCDC confirms 35 new cases

The NCDC on Thursday announced 35 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 442.

The NCDC said 19 cases were recorded in Lagos, nine in FCT, five in Kano and two in Oyo.

“As of 10:20 pm 16th April there are 442 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. 152 have been discharged with 13 deaths,” the NCDC said.

About Sir Lukcay YBNL

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