By; Dr. MOHAMMED KWAMI
The Gombe State Taskforce on COVID-19 notes with dismay and disappointment the purported protest by some COVID-19 asymptomatic carriers housed at the Kwadon isolation centre in Yamaltu Deba Local Government Area of the state.
The Taskforce, under the leadership of Prof Idris Mohammed, wishes to put the records straight with regards to the incident that took place on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
First, the Taskforce wishes to inform the general public that the protest was not as a result of neglect by authorities as claimed by the protesters; rather it was on an issue that unfortunately went out of hand.
Truth is; one of the female patients was admitted to the centre with a wound she got long before she came into Gombe State.
The Taskforce took it upon itself to treat the wound, similar to what was applied for all the isolated patients; all those with other background ailments are being managed irrespective of its relation to the COVID-19 infection.
Unfortunately, the patient’s sister, who was understandably emotional, was of the opinion that the condition can only be treated by traditional healers back in their village.
Although, the patient has the right to choose where to seek for healthcare services, taking into consideration the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 in the communities, the Taskforce was reluctant to allow her to be managed at home.
Public health consideration outweighs personal interests in this context. This was the primary issue that escalated into the protest. The Taskforce has since evacuated the said female patient to a place in her hometown in a location with minimal risk of community transmission.
The Taskforce has since its inauguration been working assiduously to meet the immediate needs of the patients at the isolation centre, especially food and other essential services.
Medical attention is being given to them with Doctors and nurses attending to in line with the protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Taskforce will not allow self-medication at the centre. It is therefore inaccurate for anybody to claim that the patients are being “poorly managed.”
The Taskforce notes that the protest was a manifestation of multi-faceted impacts on economic and psychological factors associated with COVID-19.
The social implication is clearly visible. Majority of the cases in the State are menial workers who returned from Lagos, Abuja or Kano, after realizing they could not bear the consequences of the on-going lockdowns in those cities, as their earnings depend on daily outing.
Now, despite the border restrictions, the Taskforce understood the difficulty these returnees found themselves in and welcomed them into the State with agreement that they have to be subjected to screening for the disease.
Those that turned out positive were therefore isolated for the safety of the general public. All their needs with regards to accommodation, feeding and treatment are being taken care of by the government.
However, some of the patients demanded that the government should cater for their immediate family members since they are in isolation and cannot provide for their respective families.
However, as you are aware, the Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has established another committee on distribution of palliatives.
Recommendations had already been forwarded to this committee to consider the immediate members of the index cases, even before the staged protest.
It is disheartening that while the patients came out to protest, some residents of Kwadon freely mingled with them despite the risk of being infected. Their action was indeed uncalled for.
The Taskforce is disturbed that it appears some residents of the State still consider COVID-19 as a hoax.
The Taskforce assures that the medical personnel attending to the patients in isolation are working round the clock to ensure that patients get the desired medical and psychological attention.
While the Taskforce welcomes recommendations on where to improve its operations, individuals should deter from spreading false accusations and creating distrust among the public.
The Taskforce also wishes to inform the general public that the welfare of all the engaged medical personnel and other workers rendering essential services on daily basis is paramount and is being met accordingly.
The Taskforce has already commenced contact tracing of the people in Kwadon community that might have mingled with the isolated patients during the protest in order to guard against community transmission of the virus.
The Taskforce assures the good people of Gombe State and Nigerians in general that it will do everything possible to ensure that the COVID-19 patients in the state are well taken care of.
Dr. Mohammed Kwami is the State Focal Person COVID-19 Pandemic Response Gombe State