LOKOJA – Doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Lokoja are reported to be absonding from duty on the ground that the hospital management in connivance with the state government is exposing them to high possibility of contracting Coronavirus.
In the same vein, those who reported for duties are said to be turning back patients from the hospital as the management and the state government have ignored their plea on providing Personal Protective Equipment PPE’s, or making room to test incoming patients for Covid19.
Some of the doctors who spoke to Vanguard on ground of anonymity said their is a silent conspiracy from the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Olatunde Alabi to keep mute over the possiblity of the virus in the state, said he (Alabi) has constantly denied sending samples of patients being treated in the centre or those who called in of showing symptoms of Coronavirus for testing.
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Kabiru Zubairu who had on Sunday issued a statement about the state’s negligence on providing testing kits, made a dramatic U-turn on Monday denying his statement; saying he was quoted out of context.
Zubairu before his denials had stated that the state government had refused to provide testing kits or PPE’S to them to ascertain the status of patients at the centre.
His words, “Because of this high level of suspicions, doctors prefers to rule out COVID-19 in patients they considered as high risk before proceeding to manage them for their clinical conditions.
“The inability of the state to test or follow laid down protocols in order to exclude COVID-19 may lead to needless death of patients presenting with other clinical conditions due to neglect by HCWs. It should be noted, that if doctors should attend to one unknown case of COVID-19 in the hospital settings, it may spread to many HCWs and their families”
The doctor however said the sudden denials of the NMA chairman was as a result of the pressure from the state government to give credence to it’s position that their was no Covid19 patients in the state.
He specifically mentioned a female expatriate who exhibited the COVID19 symptoms and requested to be tested for Covid19, but was denied by the state government.
The doctor also reecho the position of a Investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo who said four patients have died in the centre of Covid19 related symptoms but were covered up from public notice.
Soyombo on a tweet from his Twitter handle @fisayosoyombo which has now gone viral stated, “On Saturday, a patient died at FMC, Lokoja, Kogi State, after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. His samples weren’t taken. That was the fourth such death at that FMC last week alone. Not once was the patient’s samples taken, dead or alive. A familiar cover-up”.
FISAYO SOYOMBO TWEETS:
“On Saturday, a patient died at FMC, Lokoja, Kogi State, after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. His samples weren’t taken. That was the fourth such death at that FMC last week alone. Not once was the patient’s samples taken, dead or alive. A familiar cover-up.
“March 22 was the first time this scenario occurred. A patient who came into Kogi from Lagos required a CS. The patient exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, prompting the hospital to request for her to be tested. It was turned down. The patient was isolated for some time, surgery was done and she was discharged without testing.
“Last week, there were some patients in the O&G ward who manifested respiratory issues, inability to breathe and other COVID-19 symptoms. Three of them died. They’d come from private hospitals — one in Lokoja, another in Okene and the third in Ogudu.
“The first of the trio, Mrs GI (her initials), a 43-year-old woman who arrived at the hospital on Thursday, had a temperature of 38.8°C. The other two had temperatures of more than 40°C. In each case, no sample was taken before or after death.
Now, on the final day of the week, a patient admitted to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Ward with a temperature of 40.3°C was transferred to the male medical ward. The patient spent three hours in the ward and then died. One more patient exhibited potential COVID-19 symptoms on Sunday but moves for sample collection were futile; by yesterday, the patient was dead.
I’ve been told there are more suspected cases, but these were the ones I personally tracked. Ideally, the FMC ought to notify the Ministry of Health of the need for sample collection if it suspects a case, but the ministry needs to secure the authorization of the Incident Manager, that is the Commissioner for Health, who directly relates with the NCDC. If the Commissioner says no, end of request! Meanwhile, state hospitals are not even in a position to call the health ministry.
I understand the instruction from Governor Yahaya Bello is that there should be no testing. I know the question you want to ask and I’ll answer it: Why would the state government want to hide COVID-19 cases? There may be many reasons but I’m sure of three, so far:
1. None of the three isolation centres — at SDG/FAREC Clinic, the Kogi State Diagnostics Centre and the Maimuna and Usman Yahaya Foundation Hospital — is ready for use. A patient can’t be taken into any of them. The only ready space is at Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, where Lassa Fever cases were once managed. And it has only four beds. Not four wards — four beds! All are just building structures, no equipment at all for the doctors to work with. The diagnostics centre is a private facility donated to the state several years ago, but the 100-bed structure is an ongoing project that has spanned three executive governors and doesn’t even have power supply!
2. I understand the state has no money to give the people as lockdown palliatives, should there be the need to restrict their movement. But many in Kogi aren’t asking for palliatives; they just want their salaries, which the government is making moves to halve. It is unclear why there is no money, as the Bello administration hasn’t executed a single project since its reelection in May 2019 apart from payment of salaries. Despite receiving increased federal allocation of late due to a temporary halt of bailout deductions, the state government was going to pay workers only 50% of their salaries in March but the union stood its ground. April salaries haven’t been paid because of this ongoing disagreement.
3. For whatever reason, the state government believes the NCDC has politicised COVID-19 cases such that if samples are sent, they will automatically return +ve. It is a reason that defies logic, actually, but it exists all the same.
Kogi has blatantly REFUSED to test. Lots of medical experts agree that “it is a lie to say the state does not have COVID cases”, but scientifically, no one can put a figure to it.
The FMC has been warned that if it breaches protocol by sending anyone’s samples to the NCDC, it would be shut down on the pretext of exposure to the virus. For that the reason, the state and hospital officialdom will counter this story with all they have, rather than make amends, but the hope will be that Kogi won’t go the way of Kano before making a U-turn.”
But the state government has refuted the claims of covering up the issue said it has no reason to conceal any real case of Coronavirus in the state.
The state government in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo said though the state received a distress call from the female expatriate but further medical determination shows that her case does not fit into the spectrum of criteria set by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for actual or suspected CoviD-19 cases requiring testing. “Despite that, the Incident Officer (state commissioner for Health, Saka Haruna) still went ahead to take her temperature using the recommended infrared thermometer and her temperature was at a healthy 36.8°C. “The temperature readings fell totally within normal range and she did not exhibit any of the other symptoms which by the latest NCDC guidelines ought to have paired her nonexistent fever to necessitate further tests for COVID-19. Curiously, the said individual still insisted that her case be escalated to the NCDC for CoviD-19 testing.” The statement further said there are sinister moves to put the state on the index, “The Kogi State Government is genuinely suspicious of the motive behind her insistence, especially as we strongly suspect there are attempts to import the disease or declare fictitious cases in Kogi State. “In view of the fact that Kogi State is one of only two states still CoviD-19 free in Nigeria and having regard to recent pressures from some interesting quarters for Kogi State to find and declare cases of the disease, we are wary of an unholy conspiracy to declare COVID-19 in all states of the federation. “It is therefore pertinent to note that while the Kogi State Government will never conceal any real case of the novel coronavirus disease if it occurs in the state, she will adhere strictly to NCDC guidelines to vehemently resist all attempts to manufacture false figures or cases of COVID-19 in Kogi State.”
However, the CMD, Dr. Olatunde Alabi has refused to pick calls or respond to text messages on the absconnment of his doctors or turning back of patients.
…Take responsibility for your actions: Kogi NUJ tells NMA
However, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kogi state council has called on the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Kogi state chapter toe the part of honour by taking responsibility for it’s actions.
In a statement signed by Alhaji Momohjimoh Adeiza and Seidu, Chairman and secretary respectively, the Union expressed disappointment that an Association of the NMA’s status could deny statement issued and signed by the body
The statement which reads in part said “Our attention has been drawn to a refutal by NMA on its statement on the non testing by the Kogi state government to ascertain the level of COVID-19 in the state.
According to the NUJ, it would have been better and more honourable for the Association to simply apologize to the government, when it finds out that the statement was not correct, instead of putting journalists who are simply doing their jobs at the receiving end.
The Union equally directed all journalists in the state not to report the activities of the NMA until further notice, to avoid being drawn into unnecessary confrontations with the government or any other body because of their inconsistency.