Lagos State government yesterday said that the state had recorded 14 deaths from the COVID-19 out of which only two died in its facilities, while others died in private hospitals and also on their way to the state facilities.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this yesterday while providing update on efforts by the state government to contain the pandemic, said the state government was being proactive because it was better to be over-prepared than to be under-prepared.
Abayomi also said that new isolation centres were being built to add more bed spaces aside the hotel facilities that had been provided by the state government that would be converted to isolation centres.
He implored residents that have symptoms of COVID-19 not to stay at home, as it complicates issues.
The commissioner, who stated that only three of the 20 local councils in Lagos State have not recorded a single case of Coronavirus, said there were no cases of the virus in Ojo, Epe and Ajeromi-Ifelodun local councils while Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland and Ikeja were the three local councils with the highest cases of COVID-19.
He said that if not for the multiplicity of strategies deployed by the state government, there would have been hundreds of cases daily, adding that if the state had done nothing, by now, Lagos would have recorded 6,000 positive cases of COVID-19.
He, therefore, sought more support and co-operation from residents, especially on practising social distancing, saying that community engagement that include residents practising social distancing had greatly helped in containing the spread of the virus.
Abayomi, who said that Lagos State had just between 30 and 40 ventilators though not all of them are designated for COVID-19 patients, disclosed that the state government had decentralised COVID-19 testing across local councils to bring testing opportunities closer to the people.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho said in the coming week, the state government enlightenment campaign would be aggressive, especially educating residents on the need to practise social distancing.
He said that the state government had observed that many residents do not practise social distancing, especially in markets.
In another development, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has lamented shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), as colleagues in Lagos have tested positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The association, which claimed that most of the expected PPEs were not available for use, said nurses were being exposed to unnecessary risk with about 25 nurses on self-quarantine after being exposed to cases of COVID-19, while those who tested positive to the virus had presented themselves at the isolation centre for management.
In a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, NANNM, Lagos Chapter, Adenike Akinla, and made available to The Guardian, the association said that nurses were being subjected to hardship and diverse risks while performing their duties.
>>> Private hospitals impose restrictions on all patients <<<
The Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) has declared that all patients who attend any private facility nationwide would be deemed COVID-19 positive until proved otherwise.
The patients will also be required to comply with a protocol, which includes temperature check, compulsory hand washing before consultation, use of hand sanitisers and possible temporary isolation.
The move followed the recent exposure of some medical doctors to the virus by patients, who failed to disclose their true travel history.
This was as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as at 10:40 a.m., Saturday, April 18, announced 49 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 542, with 19 deaths and 166 persons discharged.
According to the breakdown, Lagos has 306, FCT- 81, Kano- 37, Osun- 20, Oyo- 16, Edo- 15, Ogun- 12, Kwara- 9, Katsina- 9, Bauchi- 6, Kaduna- 6, Akwa Ibom- 6, Delta- 4, Ekiti- 3, Ondo- 3, Enugu- 2, Rivers-2, Niger- 2, Benue- 1, and Anambra- 1.
GMD President Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola, in a statement, regretted that three members had died, not because they wanted to treat COVID-19 patients as speculated but because they inevitably came across the sick persons.
Dokun-Babalolaalso appealed to the Federal Ministry of Health to assist private hospitals with protective kits, saying the COVID-19 crisis does not mean other illnesses have ceased to exist.
He faulted the Federal Government for allegedly creating the impression that private medical practitioners knowingly treat COVID-19 patients for financial reward.
“The impression that private hospitals in Nigeria are keen to treat patients with COVID-19 infection, perhaps for monetary gain, must be dispelled. Permit me to mention that three of our colleagues have already died. Dr. AliyuYakubu, proprietor of Daura Clinics and Medical Centre in Katsina State, Dr. Dominic Essien of San Dominic Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Dr. Emeka Chugbo, a well renowned obstetrician who died recently in Lagos.
“The death of Dr. Chugbo is perhaps illustrative of the dilemma faced by private practitioners in Nigeria. He was an obstetrician who carried out a Cesarean Section on a COVID-19 patient and he had no idea the patient was positive. It is clear he would not have undertaken the operation if he had that knowledge.
“At the same time, the patient in question did not display any signs or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. To Dr. Chugbo, she was just a pregnant patient in distressed labour. The facts of her infection only became known after the surgery was carried out at which point the infection had been passed to our demised colleague.”
The presidency, meanwhile, has directed all State House correspondents and media office staff that covered the burial of the late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari to keep away from the Presidential Villa.
This was contained in a statement yesterday signed by AttahEsa, a deputy director of information, requesting the reporters to work from home for the next 14 days.
Kyari who was buried on Saturday was the most high-profile Nigerian to die of COVID-19.
The presidency further urged the reporters to be careful and observe the measures recommended for preventing the spread of virus.
The move followed a similar restriction placed on senior presidential aides who attended the burial.
The presidency had in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Abuja, scaled down the number of media organisations permitted to cover its activities.
A statement to that effect had read: “In view of the current restriction in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) against gathering of not more than 50 persons at the same time at any venue, as well as to be able to maintain social distancing following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative to drastically review down the presence of the over 100 State House Correspondents who usually rendezvous in the Press Briefing Room in the Presidential Villa during this period since all other departments have scaled down the presence of their staff.”
This came as the president, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, faulted the loss of confidence in public hospitals by Nigeria’s leaders.
He said: “Taking the late Abba Kyari to a private hospital is an indication of their lack of confidence in public healthcare facilities, which have been neglected in terms of infrastructure, capacity building of staff, and maintenance. For some, perhaps it is the penchant to feel different or superior to the masses so as not to be ‘equally yoked.’”
On the failure of attendees at the burial to observe social distancing, Sokomba said: “Sure, many stages and acts during the burial left so much to be desired as far as prevention of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases is concerned.
“Regrettably the uncontrolled crowding has increased exposure of many who attended to COVID-19. It has also encouraged the spread of the disease. We hope the relevant agencies will do a diligent tracking of all exposed persons and quarantine and or isolate them where the criteria are met.”
He said further: “The right step for any individual, family and institution bereaved from COVID-19, Lassa fever and other infectious diseases is to contact the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for advice and guidance on safe burial. The NCDC/ State Epidemiology units are meant to have safe burial teams comprised of well-trained professionals including religious clerics who advise and support safe burial service.
“The entire burial was supposed to have been handled by the team, carrying the family and mourners along in keeping with the protocols/guidelines.”
On what punitive measure NARD might recommend for the violations during the burial, Sokomba said: “It is not in our place as NARD to say so.Ours is to educate on health and best practices as regards prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other health challenges. The Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies know better.”