Covid-19: 75 UITH workers, others in self-isolation

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About seventy five persons who had direct and indirect contacts with Kwara State’s suspected index and two confirmed COVID-19  cases have gone into self-isolation.

The isolated persons includes 28 staff members of the University of Hospital (Ilorin Teaching (UITH), who attended to the suspected case before his death last Thursday.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and  UITH  Cbief Medical Director (CMD)   Prof Abdullah Yusuf  made these known during separate news briefings in Ilorin yesterday.

They also disclosed that a senior consultant in the institution, Prof. Alakija Salami, had been suspended for his role in the admission and release of the corpse of the suspected  case.

AbdulRazaq said during a live news conference in Ilorin, that “contact tracing by the Rapid Response Team of the medical advisory committee has so far netted 75 persons who have had contacts with the  cases, including the  suspected case at the UITH.”

The governor, who  said he directed the “immediate suspension of Prof. Salami   and other officials of UITH whose professional misconduct brought us down this path,” added that  he had signed a regulation, dated April 6, to give legal backing to the government’s measures to contain COVID-19  in the state.

He explained that the highlight of the law includes “sanctions against anyone caught endangering public safety in whatever form or seeking to unfairly profit from our collective vulnerability and need for essential commodities at this time.”

AbdulRazaq said: “Our job is cut out for us and we are definitely not dropping the ball. Contact tracing by the Rapid Response Team of the medical advisory committee has so far netted 75 persons who have had contacts with the cases and the suspected case at UITH.

”This is a trying moment for the whole of mankind. But we are definitely not helpless or without reasonable preparation in Kwara State. We are also blessed with committed professionals who are up to the task and willing to stand up and be counted at this time — while also taking all precautions.

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“COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Contracting it is neither a death sentence nor an indication of guilt. We urge Kwarans to avoid crowded space, isolate themselves, and call our helplines if they have just returned from places of interest in the last three weeks.

“The government will quickly extend the ongoing fumigation exercise to these places of interest, including Offa, where contamination may have occurred as a result of this infectious disease.

“Notwithstanding our preparation, we are not ashamed to say that Kwara State will be glad to get all the help it can receive at this moment.”

The governor said his government was “utterly disappointed” at the development in the UITH and hence his directive to the UITH  suspend  Prof. Salami.

”The government is utterly disappointed at the breach of trust that played out in the UITH case.”

CMD of the UITH, who put the number of the institution’s medical staff  members  in self-isolation at 28,  said, “We are working with the Kwara State Government Technical Committee on COVID-19 to contact-trace all that attended  to the index case.

“Already, all UITH staff members who had  close contact with the deceased patient on the night of his admission, or his corpse have been ordered to proceed on self-isolation.

“Besides, the ‘A and E’ ward and the ambulance used to convey his corpse  have been promptly fumigated.

“With all these level of preparedness and precautionary measures,  we were taken aback to discover how a very senior consultant of this hospital had facilitated the admission of a suspected case of COVID-19 at the Accident and Emergency section of the hospital on the night of  Wednesday, April 1,  2020.

“We were fed with  information  concerning   suspected food poisoning, as the cause of the death of the patient . But we later got another lead to the likely cause of the death of the said patient.

“In fact, it was shocking to us that the wife of the deceased patient had tested positive for the deadly virus as announced yesterday(Monday) by the kwara State Covid-19 Technical committee.

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“Without belabouring the narrative that led to the unfortunate incident, I humbly request  you to use channels of your various media to help convey  the remote and immediate decisions we had taken on the professor who facilitated the admission of the patient.

“The management of the hospital has placed  Prof A. K. Salami on immediate suspension as a senior consultant in this hospital bothering on his unethical conduct  in the admission, management and eventual release of the corpse  of the suspected COVID -19 patient who died in the hospital on April 2, 2020.”

He  added that the institution had set up an investigation committee to determine the culpability or otherwise of Prof Salami.

The  committee which has seven days to submit its report, is to, among other things, investigate the  motives behind the concealment of accurate information provided by the patient’s relative; determine culpability of the patient’s relative involved and  make appropriate recommendations to forestall  reocurrence of the act.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State chapter of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) has asked  the federal and state governments to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and all relevant approved guidelines for occupational safety of its members.

The union said absence of PPE and  the non- implementation of required workplace safety by government endanger the  lives of its members.

“We had drawn attention of governments within Nigeria to the crucial need to strengthen public health system. It is therefore gravely concerned that governments might not be adequately prepared to curtail the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the unfolding period,” the MHWUN  said in a statement by its Chairperson, Mrs Chinwe Orizu.

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