Yusuf Alli, Abuja and Bisi Olaniyi
DOCTORS and medical personnel who are in the frontline of the battle against coronavirus are fast becoming victims of the pandemic.
Three doctors have tested positive for the virus – two in Akwa Ibom and one in Edo State – three others are in quarantine, President of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Dr. Sukomba Aliyu said.
No fewer than 33 doctors were at the weekend forced into self-isolation to determine their status after inadvertently coming in contact with patients of COVID-19.
The doctors work with University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) (25), University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) (06) and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) (02).
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) blamed this on lack of necessary equipment and threatened to call the doctors out from duty should the situation persist.
The Nigerian Medical Association also kicked, saying it would not condone the continuous exposure of doctors to unnecessary hazard.
A Nigerian doctor Alfa Sa’adu died last week in the United Kingdom of coronavirus. The 68-year-old worked with Prince Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust.
Another Nigerian Bassey Offiong – a student with Western Michigan University in the U.S.A died of the virus a few weeks to his graduation.
The Association of Residents Doctors (ARD) University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) chapter, said 25 medical doctors, who had contact with the patients, had gone on mandatory self-isolation.
The association said 13 of them are house officers, while 12 are resident doctors.
The ARD expressed displeasure with the hospital’s management over what it described as poor handling of coronavirus in the hospital.
According to the association, many of the health workers complained of a lack of personal protective equipment, such as face masks and hand sanitisers.
The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said it placed three of its health workers on isolation after their contact with a patient who died of COVID-19.
LASUTH Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) Chairman Dr Ibrahim Mustafa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that two doctors and a nurse had contact with the patient, who later died on April 3 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba.
Following the death of a COVID-19 patient, six doctors have been quarantined by the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).
About 19 other health workers have also gone into isolation.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has demanded a brief from the Chief Medical Director of the teaching hospital, Prof. A.D. Yusuf.
A source at UITH, who is a Professor, said: “About 25 health workers, including doctors and nurses were exposed to the dead COVID-19 patient. The group on duty was called Firm 3 on the said day.
“Being the patient of the Professor of Internal Medicine (their boss), some House Officers and junior doctors on duty rushed to pay attention to the COVID-19 patient. The suspected case was that of a UK returnee who was rushed to the hospital at the instance of the Professor.
“The patient had developed symptoms upon arrival in Lagos from the UK but the Professor made him to relocate to Ilorin.
“As I am talking to you, about six doctors and 19 other health workers have been quarantined by the hospital management.
The UBTH Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Darlington Obaseki, explaining what happened, said three persons tested positive for coronavirus. One of them died.
“The two surviving patients are currently being cared for by our dedicated staff in an isolation ward, with restricted access.”
Prof Obaseki said: “Before the confirmation of their (the three patients) COVID-19 status, some of our healthcare staff were exposed to them while using only personal protection (surgical face-masks and gloves).
“Currently, all staff who were exposed to the three patients are asymptomatic and they are being closely monitored.
“Further measures have been put in place to ensure that our staff are not unduly exposed to risks of infection with COVID-19 in the course of their providing care for patients, who come to the hospital for various reasons.
“Healthcare workers are on the frontlines in the coronavirus pandemic and are at a higher risk of being exposed than the general public.
“The management and staff of UBTH, while ensuring standard precautions at all times to prevent the spread of this disease, crave the support and understanding of the general public as we fight the raging battle to contain and curb COVID-19.”
The CMD of UITH, Prof. A.D. Yusuf, did not respond to the three questions sent to him via text message.
But he referred our correspondent to the Chairman of UITH’s COVID-19 Committee, Prof. Kayode Osagbemi.
Osagbemi, who was not forthcoming on the actual figure of those quarantined, said: “I cannot give you the exact figure of the contacts that have been quarantined. But those who needed that have been quarantined.
“The situation is under control, those needed to be tested have been tested. We took the blood samples of some contacts So far, the results are coming out and they are negative. We are expecting the result of the blood sample of the wife of the late case too.”
Osagbemi refused to disclose how many blood samples had been taken to the laboratory.
In a statement, UITH accused the Professor of concealing information from frontline medical personnel at first contact in the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital.
A statement by the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee of the hospital, Dr. A. O. Saka, gave the synopsis of how the COVID-19 patient died on April 2 and the position of the hospital.
The statement said: “A 57-year-old, male, Muslim patient was brought into the UITH’s Accident and Emergency Department(A&E) on the night of Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 in the company of one of the hospital’s Professor of Internal Medicine (a specialist in infectious diseases); with history of abdominal discomfort/stooling, following ingestion of rotten pineapples. He was then admitted and managed as a case of ‘food Poisoning’.
“The patient later died in the early hours of the following day, 2nd, April, 2020. Following the patient’s death and release of his corpse to the managing Professor (who happens to be his relative) for immediate burial (in accordance with Islamic rites).
“The hospital management received several anonymous calls disclosing information of recent travels by the patient and his wife to the UK and having been on self-isolation on arrival to Ilorin prior to presentation at A&E (on the advice of the Professor who brought him)- Information that was concealed from the frontline medical personnel at first contact in the A&E; an act that the hospital’s management considered highly unethical.
Dr. Mustafa, the LASUTH Medical Advisory Committee, said the patient was attended to in the vehicle that conveyed him to LASUTH, thus reduced his exposure to health workers and other patients.
According to him, there was a high suspicion of the patient being a COVID-19 case, and the patient was referred to LUTH due to insufficient bed space at LASUTH as at the time he was presented at the facility.
“The patient did not divulge his travel history and underlying medical conditions to the health workers, but the health workers were suspicious based on his symptoms and warning to exercise caution while attending to patients.
“The health workers that attended to the patient took necessary precautions, but based on the advice of LASUTH Infectious Diseases Consultant, the doctor and nurses that had contact with the patient had been placed on isolation,” the CMAC chairman said.
He urged the public to always volunteer accurate information about their travel history and medical conditions to health workers, toward assisting to provide the right diagnosis and treatment for patients.