The Borno State Commissioner for Health, Salisu Kwayabura, on Sunday said that two patients who tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Northeast State are on the run.
The Commissioner said that 24-year-old male, Abbas Kaka Hassan and Hauwa Mohammed, a 42-year-old female, bolted from the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) after their COVID-19 results came out positive.
This is as the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has extended the quarantine orders being enforced in the State for another 30 days.
The Governor’s decision follows a recommendation to that effect by the State Standing Committee on COVID-19, which is chaired by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe.
The Borno State Health Commissioner, in explaining the abscondment of the two COVID-19 patients: “When samples of patients with contacts to Index Cases are collected, they are normally advised to go on self-isolation. They give their contacts so they can be reached when results are out.
“This is the standard medical procedure. You can’t detain someone with suspected contact. We do not have the lawful powers to do that. Other patients were also allowed to leave but they came into isolation centres and we have 19 of them in two isolation centres. However, the young man in question, chose to go into hiding.”
But the Commissioner however assured that “diligent surveillance and investigation” team is on the trail of the patients.
He said COVID-19 is not a death sentence because most of those who tested positive have recovered from the disease.
Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser to the Governor of Kaduna State (Media & Communication) said in a statement that “with COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in neighbouring States and the FCT, and with strong evidence of inter-State travel being a major means of spreading the virus, the Standing Committee’s evaluation is that measures to protect Kaduna State residents require further strengthening and more vigorous enforcement.
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has endorsed this evaluation and has accordingly reviewed the Quarantine Orders to strengthen the provisions against unauthorized movements. The two-day window during which the restriction of movement is relaxed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays has been reduced to only one day. Henceforth, only Wednesdays will be lockdown-free, until the trajectory of COVID-19 infections becomes clearer.
“All persons that venture out of their homes for whatever reason must wear facemasks and observe social distancing everywhere they go, in markets and in authorized vehicles. Government is making efforts to provide facemasks for poor and vulnerable residents, and it appeals to everyone that can afford it to get their tailors to make them cloth facemasks which they can wash after every use. The government also encourages tailors to produce facemasks for sale to those that are neither poor nor vulnerable.
Wearing of facemasks will be robustly enforced as a critical public health measure to reduce person-person transmission. The State government said that the measures announced on 26th March 2020, to contain Covid-19 remain in force and have been renewed. These were imposed in exercise of the powers vested in the Governor by Section 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended), Sections 2 and 8 of the Quarantine Act 1926, now known as CAP Q2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the Health Law of 1917.
“The Quarantine Orders prescribe fines, imprisonment and forfeiture for violations of the provisions specified therein. The Kaduna State Government has clearly stated that no visitor is welcome to enter the state while the Covid-19 pandemic is raging. Motorcycle taxis and tricycles (popular known as Keke Napep) are prohibited in the state. Persons driving or riding in them shall be prosecuted while the vehicles shall be forfeited upon conviction.
“Mobile courts have been empowered by the Quarantine Orders to try violators and impose the prescribed penalties, including fines, imprisonment and forfeiture of vehicles, upon conviction. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed all its senior appointees, including Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers and Heads of Agencies to each donate N500,000 in April 2020. In subsequent months, they will donate 50 per cent of their salaries until the quarantine ends. Other categories of political appointees will also be making monthly donations to support the provision of relief to the low income, poor and vulnerable residents of the State.”