COVID-19: THE WICKEDNESS OF THE OVER-PRIVILEGED

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The National Council for Disease Control (NCDC) has sounded the alarm that a few over-privileged individuals in our midst are unwittingly scuttling the fight against COVID-19 by hiding their condition, their travel history and exposing unsuspecting members of the society, especially frontline workers in upscale medical facilities, to the coronavirus in major cities.

It would be recalled that the index cases in Kwara and Kano states hid the fact that they just returned from the UK and refused to follow the protocols laid down by the NCDC for COVID-19. Rather, than quarantine themselves for 14 days, they mingled freely with the populace, attended parties and co-habited fully with their families. When they eventually developed symptoms associated with coronavirus, they sought treatment from private medical facilities and lied about their travel history, claiming they had not recently traveled out of the country.

This callous and, indeed wicked conduct not only exposed their families, friend and associates to the avoidable danger of contracting coronavirus but also exposed their entire communities, state and the country to exponential spread of the dreaded disease.

The NCDC’s protocol on COVID-19 requires anybody that travels from countries with high cases of COVID-19 to be in self- isolation for 14 days. Such individuals are also expected to immediately contact the NCDC if they observe any symptoms of the virus as they are not expected to seek treatment at unaccredited hospitals. Unfortunately, most returnees observe this protocol mainly in the breach.

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In a bizarre twist, a professor of virology at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Prof. Alakija Salami, brought in his friend, a chartered accountant, and auditor, Mudeen Obanimom, who returned from the United Kingdom in March and allegedly claimed that the man was suffering food poisoning while hiding the fact that he just returned from a trip to the UK and it was on that basis that he was admitted. Obanimom later died of COVID-19-related complications at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital earlier this month while his wife has recently tested positive for the virus. 25 personnel of the hospital have since been quarantined and contact tracing has begun in earnest to minimize the impact of the warped judgment on the part of the Professor and his deceased friend.

The index case in Kano state, a retired ambassador, is not much different as he is reported to have willfully lied about his travel history when he checked himself into a private medical facility. He also lied about his symptoms. Luckily, he was discovered by the NCDC tracing team and evacuated to an isolation center before he could do much damage as all staff of the said clinic have tested negative for the virus.

The federal and state governments are naturally very disturbed by the antics of these very important persons’ increasing disregard for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s protocol on COVID-19 as most of the individuals with COVID-19 symptoms are opting to patronize private hospitals and even receiving ‘home-service’ contrary to government’s directive. This is reportedly so, for VIPs living in Banana Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island.

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The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Faduyile has said patients that refused to disclose their travel history were endangering the lives of doctors and other people around them. It would be recalled that a private medical practitioner, 51-year old Dr. Emeka Chugbo, died recently after unknowing attending to a patient who was later confirmed to be COVID-19 positive but hid the fact that he recently returned from Dubai with the virus.

It smacks of the highest level of irresponsibility, Crass obtuseness and even wickedness for otherwise enlightened individuals to so cavalierly conduct themselves in a manner that endangers not only their lives but the lives of the general public. It is a known fact that early detection and treatment of most illnesses including COVID-19 is the surest way path to cure and full recovery. It, therefore, smacks of self-immolation to subject oneself to wrong diagnoses through tainted background history to medical personnel as such is the surest path to avoidable death. The extra cost to society in terms of avoidable infections, loss of productivity and even lives is the ultimate price this group of people who feel too big to use the same public facilities that they and their friends neglected for years is forcing us to pay.

Some have argued that it is the shame of being stigmatized that is driving people underground and shying away from the NCDC protocol but that is very untenable as some of the most important people in the world have had to deal with the infection and as long as they win the battle against the virus, they should consider themselves victors, not outcasts. For crying out loud, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is being celebrated for beating the virus and he did so in a public hospital in his country!

As of April 16, 20220, the NCDC announced 35 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 442. Nigeria is not equipped to handle COVID-19 cases in thousands. Every Nigerian will do well to support efforts by the federal and state governments to stop the spread of this virus in its tracks. One quick stitch will ultimately save thousands.

 

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