The Kwara State Government has called on the Minister of Health, Prof. Osagie Ehanire, to order the immediate sack of a Professor in the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Professor Alakija Salami, who hid the travel history of a patient infected with the Coronavirus Disease, who eventually died in the hospital.
The wife of the late patient and a relative of his have also contracted the disease.
The position of the Kwara State Government was made known on Tuesday by the State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, during a news briefing.
AbdulRazaq said though it was not time for bulk passing, the state government was in no way complicit in the events that led to the non-disclosure of the status of the late patient.
He said: “We realise this is no time to pass the bulk. However, we reject in totality suggestions in some quarters that the state government was complicit, had prior knowledge of the suspected case at UITH, or that the isolation centre was not functional. These claims are not only far from the truth but they are also irresponsible. We state that the government or the committee was never informed of the case by the UITH authorities until after the death of the husband of the COVID-19 patient. Claims that the patient was taken to our isolation centre were a tale by the moonlight. If we concede that he was indeed brought there, how come nobody ever contacted the committee or the government of such a suspicious case to be attended to?
“His treatment was completely shrouded in secrecy. When the government was eventually notified of the suspected case after death, the teaching hospital was specifically directed not to release the corpse until samples were taken from him. This clear advice was parried as the body was hurriedly interned without the government knowing. The question is: who authorised such release knowing how dangerous this was?
“The government is utterly disappointed at the sheer blatant disregard for protocol and ethics and breach of trust that played out in the UITH case, thus endangering the lives of millions of our people and casting undeserved aspersions on the effort of the administration to fight this virus. We insisted at this point that cover up of any kind helps no one as COVID-19 is not a death sentence. It is a global pandemic that requires all sincerity, openness and joint efforts to combat. Consequently, given his disappointing roles in the entire scandal, we demand immediate suspension of Professor Alakija Kazeem Salami and every other official of UITH whose professional misconducts brought us down this path pending further investigation, even as we step up our efforts to contain this virus.
“We request the Honourable Minister of Health to kindly use his good office to probe this unpardonable behaviour at the UITH and prosecute any of these officials as appropriate to restore confidence in the institution. We demand everything that would ensure this never happens again!”
AbdulRazaq told the people of the state that everything was being done to stop the spread of the disease in the state.
He said: “Our job is cut out for us and we are definitely not dropping the ball. Contact tracing by the Rapid Response Team of the medical advisory committee has so far netted 74 persons who have had contacts with the cases and the suspected case at UITH. As we speak, government has directed all the contacts to begin self isolation under government’s strict monitoring. In the past two weeks, Kwara State has tested and received results for 12 samples of suspected cases. Out of these, only two have tested positive. This contract tracing continues side by side with aggressive surveillance.
“Fellow Kwarans, this is truly a trying moment for the whole of mankind. But we are definitely not helpless or without reasonable preparation in Kwara State. We are also blessed with committed professionals who are up to the task and willing to stand up and be counted at this time — while also taking all precautions. Ladies and gentlemen, COVID-19 is a global pandemic and is no respecter of anyone. Contracting it is neither a death sentence nor or an indication of guilt. We urge Kwarans to avoid crowded space, isolate themselves, call our helplines if they have just returned from places of interest in the last three weeks for proper screening and early care in the event of anything. The government will quickly extend the ongoing fumigation exercise to these places of interest, including Offa, where contamination may have occurred as a result of this very infectious disease. Notwithstanding our preparation, we are not ashamed to say that Kwara State will be glad to get all the help it can get at this moment.
“While the administration revs up efforts to flatten the curve of transmission, His Excellency the Governor has on Monday signed the newly prepared Kwara State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 to provide legal backings for the local management of the global health situation. This is an emergency and the regulation, built around some enabling laws like the Quarantine Act of 2004, may empower us to invoke various drastic measures in the days ahead, if occasion call for it. Highlights of the regulation include sanctions for anyone caught endangering public safety in whatever form or seeking to unfairly profit from our collective vulnerability and need for essential commodities at this time.
“The government is doubling down in the ongoing aggressive sensitisation of the public across all media platforms, especially radio and social media, on the danger of this virus and a need to prevent community transmission. We need everyone to join this public advocacy in their various locality without exposing themselves or others to danger….
“Finally, Kwarans, this is no time to panic. It is no time to play politics. We are in this together. Please stay calm. We will do everything to keep you safe. But we need everyone to play their own role. Stay at home, except you are on essential duties. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowd. Prioritise personal hygiene. Eat well and rehydrate yourself. And finally, do not spread unverified news.”