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COVID-19: Anambra State govt, hospital, index case bicker on positive status

By Madu Onuorah

… I’ve no reason to be in isolation, Index case

… Hospital says index case was treated for symptom of heart disease and discharged

…Hospital accuse NCDC of irresponsiveness

… Index case in Anambra State poorly handled by Anambrarians – Obi

The Anambra State Index Coronavirus (COVID-19) case (male), the hospital that treated him and the State government is at war over his actual status.

While the State government says that his COVID-19 status has been established, the index case denies the claim, saying that the ailment for which the tag has been placed on him was treated and he was certified and discharged from hospital.

The index case, from the COVID-19 isolation centre in Onitsha, on Sunday said on phone that he at a loss as why he is being held, alleging that the State government was plotting to kill him by starvation.

According to him, “I don’t have Coronavirus. Government is claiming that I have COVID-19. Let them come here and conduct test. The true situation is that the government of Anambra State wants to kill me. I have no business with them. I am in the hospital. I don’t know about Coronavirus.

“And I have been here since 3:00a.m. I was not given any food or water. I was not also given any treatment. What type of government is that? Is an individual a government? It is the masses that are government. I have been here since 3 O’clock in the morning. And I am here with my child.

“My ailment has been diagnosed in the hospital and I have been treated and discharged. They conducted tests. That was seven days ago and I was discharged yesterday (referring to Friday). Later on, they came with some papers and said that I tested positive. Is it their father or their mother that tested positive? They kept me here since 3 O’clock and dispersed.”

But the State government says that there is no doubt that the Index case is positive for COVID-19, adding that the doctors, nurses and all the contacts he has had since arrival in the State on March 28 must be quarantined.

A concerned native of the index case community of Adazienu, Anaocha Local Government Area of the State, released a voice note that has been trending on social media, claiming that the index case had mingled with many people, including those who visited him to seek financial help. The status of the prominent indigene is causing anxiety following the declaration by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) last Friday.

Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, insists that the index case tested positive and that he was being properly taken care of at the isolation centre.

Adinuba said that already, the patient’s son and driver have been isolated and were being closely monitored.

According to the Commissioner, “how can he say that he doesn’t have the virus? The thing read positive. We did not even know. The result came from NCDC. He was given food at 10:45a.m. He was given a special kind of food; not ordinary food. He took his drugs at about 8:00a.m.”

Adinuba added in a statement on Sunday evening: “No COVID-19 patient anywhere has received the kind of attention given to Anambra’s index case. Yet, there are about 300 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Nigeria alone. The social media does not publish their identities until when they have been treated successfully and the persons affected decide to speak in public forums about their experience. It is difficult to understand the hoopla over Anambra’s index case”

“COVID-19 is no death sentence. Its mortality rate is far less than that of, say, Lassa fever, another viral disease which reared its head in the state some two months ago. It was treated with the same clinical efficiency with which the COVID-19 index case is being treated. It is, indeed, reassuring that the index case is in stable condition,” the statement said.

“The despicable behavior of the people making and promoting the propaganda materials against our index case does not define the character of ndi Anambra. We are known for superabundance of humanism. We are famous for our acute sense of solidarity. We are reputed for tremendous support especially to those in distress, hence the popular aphorism, onye aghana nwanne ya, is at the centre of our world. We have always been our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper”

Adinuba, in the statement, said that “to repeat the obvious, Anambra’s COVID-19 index case does not deserve the kind of publicity he is receiving, nor is he deserving of the opprobrium which his detractors want him to go through. His privacy must be respected. He is a law-abiding citizen, a philanthropist and a major investor in key sectors of the state. He needs peace, cooperation, emotional stability and prayers from all and sundry, apart from sound medical attention.

“Of course, he is getting excellent attention in one of the finest protection centres in the State. We are proud we built the first protection centre, otherwise known as isolation centre, which meets World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. We have also trained the personnel, including cleaners, to manage COVID-19 cases professionally. 

Meanwhile, Reverend Father Jerome N. Okafor, the Administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu, said on Saturday that while it admits that the patient was admitted at Dr. Joe Nwiloh Heart Center of St. Joseph’s Hospital for heart problem on Tuesday April 7, 2020, “it will respect the privacy of patient by keeping his name private secret.”

The statement said that immediately on admission, “a Medical Officer who went attend to him noticed that he was cuffing out blood, and was shivering. He suspected that the patient has symptoms of COVID-19 and informed the Cardiologist who admitted him. He did not think that the symptoms indicated were strong enough to suggest the virus infection. However, he authorized the staff OF the center to call the office the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). They did so several times. Each time the office assured them that their staff was coming.

After sixteen hours of waiting, the authority of the centre decided to send a delegation to the office of the CMD of Amaku Universtity Teaching Hospital, Awka. The team was able to persuade the CMD to send people to come and take the man’s sample for testing and to transfer him to Government designated isolation centers. It is supposed that he consulted with the Commissioner for Health and the Governor and eventually a team of medical personnel was sent to collect the man’s sample. The team said the result will be ready within forty-eight hours.

“After forty-eight hours; the medical team delegated to follow up the case began call the NCDC office. All they could get after several phone calls is a verbal report that the index patient is positive. Up till now the Hospital Administration has not received any official report of the result of the test. What have today all over the media is that St. Joseph’s Hospital has a patient with covid19 virus. What is the motive behind this? It is certainly not the interest of the common people that the hospital serves nor that of the patient. The staff of the Center was very professional in their approach to the issue.

“Meanwhile, since the office responsible for taking up the matter was duly informed, the sample was taken, but the result was not forthcoming; the staff continued to treat the patient for the symptom of heart disease which he presented. He got better and was discharged because insisted on going back to his house. The patient did not run away from the Hospital. He paid his medical bill. The Centre discharged because the major reason why he was suspected of the virus was that he was not forthcoming with the information about his travel history.”

The hospital regretted the blackmail it has been subjected, stating that “it is clear that the hospital has been hurt. The psychological trauma of the patient, whose medical information the hospital staff is duty-bound to protect, is incalculable. This will further wear out the confidence our people have in the medical profession. There are things which should never be treated as a matter for entertainment of means of making money. Personal integrity of people should always be respected and never to be exploited.”

Meanwhile, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democrat Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, has frowned at the manner Anambrarians handled the index case of COVID-19 in Anambra State.

He also singled out St. Joseph Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu for commendation for their professionalism.

In a statement by his Media Office, Mr Obi thanked St. Joseph Hospital for being pro-active, going by the measures they took in handing the case, but described the stigmatisation of the index case by the people through videos and publications in various media platforms, and the accompanying psychological trauma, as against the basic principle of collective fight against the pandemic. 

Expressing confidence in St Joseph Hospital, Obi said it remained one of the best health facilities in this part of the country and that its Dr. Joseph Nwilo Heart Centre remained the best of its kind in Nigeria, manned by the globally-acclaimed cardiologist, Dr. Joe Nwilo, one of the most patriotic Nigerians who, though based in the USA, comes in from time to time at his own cost to perform free heart operations.

Obi also noted with satisfaction the fact that St. Joseph Hospital is among the over 400 facilities made available by the Catholic Church to the Federal Government of Nigeria to assist in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Obi also commended the Anambra State government for taking the index case to an isolation centre and for following up on the matter in line with prescribed practices. He urged them to do whatever is necessary to ensure the speedy recovery of the patient. 

Speaking further, Obi made a special appeal to the people, saying: “I urge all Anambrarians and Nigerians to know that the coronavirus illness is not sexually transmitted or a criminally-induced disease. It is beyond politics and should not be subjected to fake news. Those afflicted need love, care, understanding and above all, prayers to God to intervene in this scourge ravaging the world.”

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