Fear has gripped health workers at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Edo State, over alleged medical blunder made by some physicians at the hospital in the result of the tests conducted on two suspected COVID-19 patients sent to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, ISTH, in Edo State.
At present, the hospital is in total confusion, following the death of one of the patients who later tested positive to COVID-19 along with the others, after testing negative to the virus earlier.
Currently, doctors, health workers and patients have been potentially exposed to the risk of COVID-19 infection.
A source close to the hospital who spoke to newsmen, said as it was now only a chain of tracking that has to be done to properly arrest the situation at the hospital.
The source told newsmen that the physicians failed to wait for official transmission of the result of the suspected COVID-19 patients before commencing treatment on the said patients.
The source gave an account of what transpired: “It is unfortunate that people want things to be done through the back door, which sometimes lead to problems at the end of the day.
“They sent their samples but before their result could be transmitted officially, the attending physician in UBTH now called his friend in Irrua because he was there before and wanted to know whether the result was positive or negative, so he could proceed with the treatment.
“He leveraged on that relationship and called the doctor in Irrua who also manages Lassa fever screenings. Apparently, he wanted to proceed on treatment for other conditions because the first patient had chronic renal condition and the second one has bronchial pneumonia.
“So they wanted to proceed to manage the conditions. He did not know that what he meant was that only the samples tested so far were negative, and on this basis, the patients were moved from the isolation ward to the main ward, while the patient with chronic renal disease was sent to dialysis.
“That further exposed those who did the dialysis. He went for dialysis and also the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, because he was unconscious; he eventually gave up.
“The one that was taken to the ward was also exposed to other patients. When the remaining samples from Benin were done, which included the two from UBTH, it was then they gathered that the one from UBTH could not be done the previous day and the two samples came out positive.
“This threw the whole system into confusion. So when they got the information at UBTH, they now quickly took the patients back to isolation. That was what happened.”
The source regretted that all the doctors, nurses and nurse assistants who were exposed, are now in isolation, as others are being tracked.
“But the problem now is how to properly trace all the contacts to be able to arrest the situation. It is a chain of tracking that has to be done to properly arrest the situation there.
“It is most unfortunate because it also bothers on medical negligence. I will be surprised if nobody goes down in terms of disciplinary action. This is a very serious thing; they have endangered the lives of many people,” the source added.
Lamenting that the hospital management failed to provide Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs, especially at the point of entry, he said: “Although that has been largely done now but it is a little late. So that was what actually happened from inside information. It is not that they mixed one result with another.
“There is a lot of pressure at the Irrua hospital. Many of the people working at the centre have been pulled out to Abuja. The manpower is not there. The government has even pulled out some people from the centre to Abuja. The panel investigation is ongoing already,’’ the source said.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Government has rolled out an aggressive enforcement policy to stem the spread of Coronavirus in the state, even as it said that it was reluctant to impose total lock-down because of the economic hardship such a move would cause.
Governor Godwin Obaseki in an address monitored in Benin yesterday, said with 11 confirmed cases as at yesterday, April 8,2020, it was evident that the number of cases was likely to increase significantly in the next few weeks.
The governor, who had just completed a 14-day isolation after exposure to confirmed cases of coronavirus, said throughout the isolation period, he had effectively co-ordinated the state’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
He said: “As at today, Edo State has 11 confirmed cases and sadly one death from COVID-19. Unfortunately, from the evidence we now have, the number of cases is likely to increase significantly in the next few weeks, unless we take very drastic actions now to slowdown the spread.
“We have gathered information that large numbers of our citizens who traveled back home in the last several weeks from overseas may not have self-isolated themselves. Although majority of the current cases are individuals with travel history and their relatives, in the coming days, we are likely to see community transmission of the virus to people who do not have any travel history.”
While insisting that the state government’s response strategy was geared towards ensuring that the livelihoods of the people were protected, the governor said:
“Edo State Government is very reluctant to have a total shut-down of the state because of the hardship it will cause to our people. However, if we are going to stop the spread of the virus, every person must be involved; it must be a shared responsibility.
“Government alone cannot stop it without the active co-operation of the citizens. As I emphasized in my last statement, the COVID-19 virus does not spread on its own, it is people who spread it when they move around.
“So, if we can reduce the movement of people for a period, and keep safe distance from other people, the virus will not spread. Government will now strictly enforce all the guidelines which have been announced to control the spread of COVID-19.
“For the next 14 days, it is compulsory that every person in Edo State must wear a face mask in public. The Edo State Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers are mass-producing high-quality reusable face masks at affordable prices. Any gathering of more than 20 people will be immediately dispersed and persons involved will be prosecuted.”
On markets closure, he said: “Markets in Edo State will be shut for fumigation, sanitization and thorough cleaning over the next 30 days. All those selling essential items like food and medicines will be relocated by the local government to the nearest open spaces where they can sell while observing social distancing regulations.
“Edo State Government will shut down any hotel found to be hosting guests who traveled from outside the state and did not inform the COVID-19 response team to screen such guests. Vehicles with passengers not adhering to the social distancing regulations will be impounded and the driver prosecuted.’:
Urging people to take ownership of the campaign to rid the state of the pandemic, Obaseki said: “Every business premises and household must have hand-washing facilities at points of entry and should please insist that everyone must wash their hands before entry.
“All government hospitals and primary health care centres will be used as screening centres to screen citizens who believe they may have been exposed or suspect that they may have symptoms of COVID-19.
“We have now completed the first set of training for all health workers in Edo State who will man the screening and isolation centres.”
He said the state government would work with the local governments, religious organizations and traditional rulers to distribute food items to the most affected and most vulnerable members of communities in the state.
“We continue to receive cash, equipment, drugs and food supplies from well-meaning individuals, government agencies, and organizations. For this, we say thank you. The Secretary to the State Government will announce the names of members of the committees who will be assisting us to co-ordinate our relief efforts,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lagos State has recorded another death, as a 66-year-old citizen of the United Kingdom died of complications arising from Coronavirus in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, disclosed this via his Twitter handle yesterday.
The latest death brings the total number of death in the state to three.
In a related development, some residents of Kurmi Kaduna Community in Igabi Local Government Area, Kaduna State, were yesterday thrown into confusion after a Lagos-returnee presented feverish symptoms.
Newsmen report that the community members became more confused as family members of a 27-year-old man (names with held), who returned from Lagos on April 5, deserted their home after he (returnee) presented feverish symptom similar to that of coronavirus.
Malam Liman Hamsu, the Village Head of Kurmin Kaduna, said when the man displayed symptoms of high fever, his family members ran away from the house, thinking he had coronavirus.
“The family ran away when the suspect began vomiting and exhibiting symptoms of high fever. Thereafter, the entire community became tensed because all family members of the suspect ran away from him, thinking the man might have absconded from Lagos isolation center to take refuge in Kaduna,” Hamsu said.
According to him, members of the community had to call the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, and health representatives from Igabi LGA, who said the symptoms had no correlation with COVID-19.
“After several calls to the NCDC, the Centre sent representatives to our community to see the patient’s situation.
“Also, member of the health team from Igabi LGA came and confirmed that the suspected case was negative, without taking any sample,” he added.
He appealed to members of the family to return as the case had been confirmed negative, adding that only the return of the members would allay the fears of the entire community
Similarly, Niger State government has succeeded in tracing twenty seven persons suspected to be coronavirus infected and are currently under quarantine in an isolation centre at Sanu village in Bosso Local Government Area of the state.
The main suspect, who drove in from Lagos a few days ago, was said to have been instructed by his family and members of his community in Makera town, Mashegu Local government Area of the State not to come home, suspecting he must have been infected in Lagos and should, therefore, keep off them temporarily.
The suspect, having got wind of plans by his family to deny him entry into the community, it was learned, also played a fast one on his family by abandoning his car somewhere in the town and joined a public vehicle with 26 passengers on board to Wushishi, headquarters of Wushishi Local Government Area of the State to save himself from embarrassment.
The State Commissioner of Health and Hospital Services, Dr. Mohammed Makun Sidi, said yesterday that the state government was equally notified about the development.
He said the government swung into action and immediately blocked the truck he was travelling in with 26 others a few kilometers to their destination, rounded them up and led them straight to the Social Mobilization Centre in Minna, the state capital.
The commissioner said: “The relations of the suspect residing in Makera community in Mashegu Local Government Area of the state received an information about the poor condition of health of the suspect as he left Lagos for the village and they in turn made a call to COVID-19 Task Force members at Governmrnt House Minna, which swung into action.
“We learned the suspect also got wind of the plans by his family to deny him access into the family house in Makera town and, therefore, parked his private vehicle that he brought from Lagos somewhere within the village, disguised himself and boarded a Canter truck that was traveling to Wushishi Local Government Area of the state, with 26 people on board the vehicle.
“However, the state government was already ahead of him as he was arrested along with the 26 passengers with whom he had boarded the truck from Mashegu Local Government Area and were driven straight to the Social Mobilization Centre in Shanu village, Bosso Local Government Area, from where they had been quarantine since Monday.”
Dr. Sidi declared that the health status of the twenty seven suspects were yet to be determined.
“But, we are acting on the directive of the World Health Organization, WHO, and NCDC, to quarantine such people and that is why they are under quarantine, pending outcome the tests we conducted on them that had been taken for analysis at NCDC in Abuja,’’ he said.
The results, according to him, are expected to arrive the state next week after which their status would be made public.