COVID-19: UNETHICAL PRACTICE AND COMPROMISE INCREASING THE RISK OF COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION IN KWARA STATE
There is an increasing risk of COVID-19 community transmission in Nigeria due to breach of COVID-19 recommended protocols especially by people who should know better. The latest of this is the seeming unprofessional practise by a respected medical staff, Prof. AK Salami, a Consultant in Kwara State, which has resulted in the first reported case in Kwara State.
Alhaji Obanimomo, one of the latest deaths from COVID-19 and the first reported case in Kwara State points to this. The deceased, an oversea returnee arrived Nigeria within the past month but failed to observe the COVID-19 protocol for returnees from overseas despite manifesting symptoms of the virus. According to reports, the victim on return was managed by Prof Salami, who is a family friend and medical practitioner, but defied professional ethics and admitted him in a facility- University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), without disclosing useful information on the patient including his travel history to the doctors. He instead misled the team to believe the patient was suffering from food poisoning, further endangering the lives of caregivers, family and friends. The Prof is also accused of taking the body of the deceased for funeral in line with Islamic laws as against the protocol for managing remains of patients who die of communicable viral disease such as COVID-19.
This is one of the series of failures in the management of this pandemic in Nigeria.
At this rate, the risk of Community transmission is increasingly high and this is worrisome for a country where about two thirds of it's population are poor and unable to access proper medical services.
Reports suggest that the deceased had contracted the virus on his way from his trip abroad, but concealed from people with the help of the Prof. Salami who self managed him at a private location until it got out of hand. The Prof thereafter moved the deceased to hospital in the pretence that it was food poison. However a lot of persons were exposed unknowingly.
1) Doctors and Nurses that treated him
2) Hospital workers that cared for him.
3) The Prof A.K. Salami himself
4) The wife of the deceased
5) The transporters that took the deceased to the hospital and the one that evacuated his remains to Offa.
6) Everyone at the burial in Offa.
6) Mourners that visited his widow.
7) All other persons that came across the deceased within the period of his illness to his final burial as well as secondary contacts of these people.
As the number of cases of COVID-19 recorded in Nigeria continues to increase rapidly, there have been concerns questioning the management of the pandemic vis-a-vis Nigeria's failing health care system. Before the last two weeks, the casualty level due to the pandemic has been better managed relative to what obtains in other countries. However, recent developments calls to question the sincerity of the numbers, especially in the light of recent revelations where some persons saddled with the responsibility of managing emergencies have failed to do their part.
Firstly, the Chief of Staff of the President, a member of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 concealed information about his travel history and refusal to self isolate in line with global best practise, despite returning from an overseas country with high risk. As a result, several lives were put at risk. It is also ill-advised for him to elect to private treat himself against the protocol for such pandemic.
This is short of good leadership as the government which he plays important role will, arising from this, lack the moral latitude to challenge or prosecute those who violate this protocol.
Next was the case of Ejigbo returnees whose failure to self isolate increased the risk in Osun State as seen in the rising numbers. We have seen how overnight, Osun state jumped from zero to 3rd position on the scale of the more ravaged states in the country. Others include governors and very important personalities in the country who will not obey the same law the put or help to put in place.
The latest in the series is this case in Kwara State. It is only a matter of when and not if, as surely, social life in Kwara state is about to change as a result of this and the people especially the very poor will be at the receiving end of the anguish and pain the so called rich, effluents and educated are placing upon them.
While we continue to show signs of success in the fight, we cannot fail to acknowledge the efforts of the essential service workers who have put themselves at risk just to ensure all others are safe. The Security Agents (both public and private), Medical practitioners, Food producers, Emergency response teams among others. The results are coming good because of their dedication as more victims are discharged after treatment. This is a big win for medical practise in Nigeria as we may not need support from China to overcome COVID-19.
While the Lagos State Government has been commended for it's efforts at managing the pandemic, the celebrated trial and prosecution of celebrity Funke Akindele and hubby for violating the social distancing directive is another step to show it's sincerity in winning the fight against COVID-19. This notwithstanding the show of shame at the court typified by the Attorney General’s press briefing that followed, It is expected that all other known cases including that of Prof. A.K. Salami will be be treated same way to send a strong signal and not to be seen as serving double standards.
The violations of these protocols is at huge cost to Government as the country has invested several billions in managing the pandemic. The world and Nigerians are watching.