Before now, most transmissions were from foreigners or Nigerian returnees from covid-19 endemic countries. But now, the major source of infection is via community transmission, a fact that is both dangerous and worrisome because it is more difficult to contain.
More must be done now to halt community transmission within our nation because, that would overwhelm our health system as has been observed in even more advanced countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain among others. The index case in Nigeria,
identified as a 44-year-old Italian, who was sequestered at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, a health worker alleged that the patient had attempted to escape the Center. The patient had complained about the poor and parlous state of the isolation centre.
The high ranking health oficial reportedly decried the ‘very poor quality’ of the isolation centre, lamenting that “the authorities had not matched words with action.” However the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Obafemi Hamzat, quickly said that the state government had built a facility to handle the situation, adding that the patient had been kept in a good condition.
Since that attempted escape from isolation by the Italian, many more have successfully escaped Isolation centers thus endangering the lives of unsuspecting Nigerians, with dire consequences to all those they come in contact with.
Recently there were reports that six patients at the Osun State Isolation centre escaped. According to the report from Ejigbo, Osun State, the six persons who had tested positive for covid-19, had escaped from the isolation centre without trace. They are said to have been part of the 127 that had returned from Ivory Coast. The returnees were quarantined on the order of the state government, after 20 of them had tested positive.
Similarly, a lady suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus allegedly escaped from an isolation centre in Abuja and was reportedly traced and arrested in Akwanga, Nasarawa State. She was tracked by security personnel through her phone number to Kurmin Tagwaye, a suburb of Akwanga. The lady was traced to the house of one Deacon in Akwanga and taken to the isolation centre at General Hospital, Akwanga. Her unethical conduct, endangered many including the Deacon and his family. The Deacon has gone on self-isolation pending the outcome of the test result of the lady.
Also a commercial driver who tested positive to coronavirus in Niger State had reportedly escaped from the isolation centre in Bida where he was being managed. Niger State Commissioner for Health and Hospital Services, Dr. Mohammed Makunsidi, who disclosed this said the patient had been declared wanted and that a special team had been raised by government to smoke him out.
On the case in Niger State, the commissioner reportedly said: “We are surprised that he escaped! How he managed to escape from the isolation
centre is still a mystery to us but a manhunt for the man has been mounted.” “We heard of the arrival of a driver that is said to have tested positive to Coronavirus who was being managed at an isolation centre. We heard he escaped into Bida, Vso we are after him now.”
￼All these escapes raise questions about the standard of the isolation centres across the country! Therefore , a lot needs be done to put the
various isolation centers in good tenantable condition. It is suspected that the lack of proper facilities is the major reason why patients refuse to stay. Moreover, it is alleged that patients in such centers remain untended by medical personnel , so patients often have no choice but to leave so they can fend for themselves!
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has to do more to bring our isolation centers up to THE World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.
It is also common knowledge that some of the national orientation camps for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had been turned to isolation centres by some states and there are doubts about their suitability for that.
In our country where corruption is endemic covid-19 has provided another opportunity for corrupt officials to steal money and supply substandard equipment in isolation centres.
This should be looked into by the anti-corruption agencies to ensure that Nigerian people are not shortchanged.
￼Nigerian government at all levels should rise up to the challenge that the nation is now where it had prayed not to be in the war against covid-19 which is at the community transmission stage which is more difficult to control. We must therefore join hands with the government to ensure that this stage of the transmission does not spiral out of control. However we must hold our leaders accountable if covid-19 positive patients keep escaping from isolation centres and pose risk to the rest of the society. Similarly this is time for the national orientation agency to embark on campaign to let Nigerians know that covid-19 is not a death sentence and that stigmatization is wrong.
Already most positive Nigerians have recovered and fewer deaths recorded, so patients should not be scared of going to isolation centres where they could be well taken care of and also protect their families and the society. Together this nation shall defeat covid-19!