A 51-year-old medical doctor on Wednesday died of COVID-19 after contracting the virus from a patient he was treating.
The doctor, who died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, was rushed to the facility on Monday after attempting to manage a COVID-19 patient in a private hospital in Lagos.
The Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of the hospital, Prof Wasiu Adeyemo, said the doctor was not a staff member of the hospital, but was rushed to the facility after he showed symptoms of the disease.
“The doctor is not a LUTH staff member; he was a private practitioner, though he trained in LUTH some 18, 20 years ago. I remember I met him, I know him, he left LUTH around 2002. One of his classmates called me that he has some issues in his private hospital, so I asked that he should be brought to LUTH. He was COVID-19 positive, we started him on drugs but unfortunately, he died this morning (Wednesday),” Adeyemo said.
The LUTH CMAC said he would not disclose the name of the doctor and his hospital as it was against the ethics of the medical profession.
But the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, while condoling with the family of the deceased doctor on its twitter page, @LagosNMA, identified him as Chugbo Emeka.
“NMA LAGOS regrets to announce the death of Dr. Chugbo Emeka at the LUTH isolation ward. He was a Private Medical Practitioner who was exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“We condole with his family and d medical community for this painful loss ” Lagos NMA tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday said 20 centres would be created in Lagos State for collection of samples from people suspected to have contracted COVID-19.
The NCDC Director General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the samples would be taken to the molecular laboratories in Lagos for testing.
Ihekweazu also said door-to-door collection of samples would soon begin in Abuja. He added that Nigeria had increased her testing capacity to 3,000
At the press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that the ministry had expanded its case definition for COVID-19.
The NCDC had, on Tuesday, said the problem the country was facing was not the inadequacy of molecular laboratories, but how adequate samples would get to the labs for testing.
It said the 12 molecular laboratories in the country, which it put their capacity at 1,500 on Tuesday, were not conducting enough tests.
At the PTF press conference on Wednesday, Ihekweazu said part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus was adoption of a change in strategy after more testing laboratories had been established.
Samples of people with acute respiratory infection, high fever to be taken
He said, “We are trying to change our strategy now and test more people. The testing laboratories have increased, but the bottleneck now is getting samples from the right people.
“We are setting up 20 health care facilities in Lagos to collect samples from people that think they have acute respiratory infections and high fever. We are intensifying our surveillance in health, so hospitals around Lagos and the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) can collect samples from people with high respiratory infections.
“In certain Abuja communities, we are going from door to door to collect samples from people that have acute respiratory infections. We are doing the same in Lagos. In these two places, Lagos and the FCT, where there is high incidence of the infection, we are now going to the patients to collect samples.
“Core centres have improved dramatically and we are urging the people that think they have acute respiratory infections to call us. Go to one of these 20 centres (in Lagos). Don’t go to any other centre. Lagos State will announce them as they are set up and make them accessible to everyone.
“We have the capacity right now to test 3,000 per day, but that capacity is not being fully utilised. That is why we focus on Lagos and the FCT.”
Health workers, senior citizens to be prioritised
The NCDC boss added that with a shortage of personal protective equipment around the world, Nigeria would give priority to health workers at isolation centres and laboratories, as well as senior citizens on the use of face masks.
He said, “It (use of masks) has been a controversial topic, but it does not have to be. The number of cases from over the world has risen to over two million with over 100,000 deaths of a disease that none of us know about. The scale of the disease outbreak and response has to radically increase and the aspect of mask is one of them.
“On the other hand, there is a reality that we face. There is a chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment, including masks, around the world. The world was not prepared for a pandemic of this scale. We have to prioritise certain part of our population.
“Fifty per cent of the world masks are produced by China that has been on lockdown for months. They are now restarting their production and thankfully, some of those things are coming out.”
He said countries that produced medical materials, including masks, had banned their exportation because they too needed them.
NCDC unveils guidelines for face mask wearing
The NCDC boss also unfolded guidelines for wearing of masks, adding that it should be combined with social distancing and hand washing.
He stated, “Wearing of a mask is not a protection against COVID-19 unless it is combined with other measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. We particularly recommend these (masks) for senior citizens over the age of 60, especially those that have hypertension, diabetes. Many of us live with comfortably with these (diabetes and hypertension), but because we are in an additional risk of having severe incidence of this disease (COVID-19) so we will like to offer that additional level of protection.
“It is critical that we learn how to properly put them (masks) on and off by hands. We don’t need to touch the inside of the masks.”
FG recommends mask for people in markets, malls, food sellers
He also said face masks were recommended for people in markets, malls and food sellers.
The NCDC boss stated, “The use of masks is usually important if you want to attend large gatherings which are few now like markets and malls.
“If you are a member of the public and you want to wear a mask, we don’t recommend a surgical mask but an improvised mask to protect you if you insist. This is a virus and we have to respond to people that get infected. None of us is immune to it.”
Governors advised on prudent spending
He advised governors to ensure that masks and other essential materials were procured for health workers, particularly those at the isolation centres.
Ihekweazu said the PTF had ensured provision of PPE for all hospitals in need of it across the country. He said the equipment included the ones donated by Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma. He said the present situation also provided economic boost for companies that could produce PPE.
People with fever, respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause included in case definition
At the press conference, the minister of health said more people would be accommodated for testing after the review of the case definition for COVID-19.
Ehanire said, “There are now 12 functional COVID-19 testing laboratories. To ensure maximum utilisation of our increased testing capacity, the case definition and testing criteria have been expanded to include not only contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with fever and respiratory tract symptoms, but also all persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.”
According to him, it is important to step up testing because of the increase in community transmission of the virus.
He also said, “All persons fitting into the case definition are advised to first wear a mask of any type, isolate themselves from friends and family as they call the national emergency number 112, or the NCDC toll free number 0800 9700 0010, or report to the nearest health facility for referral.”
Isolation centres categorised
The minister said that the case review also meant that isolation centres across the country would be grouped into categories.
He added, “There are three levels of isolation: Isolation one is for suspected cases of COVID-19, while awaiting results. This is also used to designate the mandatory quarantine facilities for those returning from abroad with negative results, or those unable to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
“Isolation two is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with mild or moderate symptoms who need little to no clinical management.
“Isolation three is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with severe or critical symptoms who need enhanced clinical management or intensive care.”
Use of private clinics
The minister said private facilities (willing to treat coronavirus patients) had to be inspected and accredited before they could be allowed to function.
He stated, “ They must have doctors and the protocols to handle the virus because the likelihood is that the spread of infection from one person who has COVID-19 to another patient and to members of personnel will be very easy.”
Osun discharges six patients
Osun State Governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, on Wednesday said the state had discharged six COVID-19 patients.
Oyetola, via his twitter handle, @GboyegaOyetola, said 17 COVID-19 patients had so far been discharged in the state.
He said, “Another good news from our isolation centre, as six more COVID-19 patients have tested negative twice, in line with @NCDCgov protocol. The patients who are among the 127 Ivory Coast returnees have been discharged to join their families.
“This brings to 17, the number of cases that have tested negative twice and have been discharged after treatment in our state. The remaining two patients at our facility are responding to treatment.”
Lagos records seventh COVID-19 death
But the Lagos State Government said a COVID-19 patient had died in the state.
The state Ministry of Health via its Twitter handle, @LSMOH, said, “One COVID19 death was recorded. This brings to seven, the number of #COVID19 related deaths in Lagos State.
…discharges 16 more COVID-19 patients
The state government, however, said 16 more COVID-19 patients were discharged on Wednesday after testing negative twice.
The state Ministry of Health via its twitter handle, @LSMOH said 68 patients have now been discharged from the Infectious Disease Hospital,Yaba to reunite with their family members.
Sixteen more COVID-19 Lagos patients; 14 males and two females including three foreign nationals – one British, one Chinese and one Polish – have been discharged.”
“The patients; 14 from Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital,Yaba and two from Onikan Isolation Centre have fully recovered and tested negative twice consecutively toCOVID-19. This brings the number of patients successfully managed and discharged from our facilities to 85.
FCT discharges nine patients
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, on his part said nine COVID-19 patients had been discharged in the FCT.
Disclosing this on his twitter on Wednesday, the minister explained that some of the patients were treated at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Isolation Centre, Gwagwalada, while others received treatment at the National Hospital Isolation and Treatment Centre.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, has said that distribution of palliatives will commence in Abaji Area Council on April 17.
She said that the decision to start in Abaji was to test-run the exercise with regard to security personnel and logistics with a view to improving on identified mistakes in other area councils.
Ogun keeps mum over discharged patients, traces 100 contacts
But the Ogun State Government kept mum over the fate of three patients of COVID-19, who were scheduled to be discharged on Wednesday.
The state Commissioner for health, Dr. Tomi Coker, had told The PUNCH exclusively on Tuesday that three patients would be discharged on Wednesday .
But, when she was called on Wednesday to give an update, she declined to confirm whether they had been discharged or not .
She said, “I can’t tell you that information. When they are gone, you will see that they have been discharged. I can’t be telling you that information, I told you, I have to give them their privacy.”
When she was told that Lagos had been giving daily updates of the situation ,she said “I will get back to you.”
Coker did not get back as of the time of filing this report .
Meanwhile , the commissioner disclosed that no fewer than 100 persons, who had had contact with the two new cases, had been traced.
Coker said it through a text message to The PUNCH when asked of the number of contract tracing .
Lagos yet to get Jack Ma’s testing kits
Meanwhile, there were indications on Wednesday that Lagos State had yet to get its share of testing kits donated to the country by a Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma.
The Chinese businessman, had last month donated COVID-19 testing kits to African countries. The kits, which were sent to Ethopia, were later distributed and dispatched to each of the countries.
The kits were initially sent to Lagos before they were conveyed to Abuja, where they were expected to be distributed to each state.
A top Lagos official, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “Lagos is the epic centre of the virus, unfortunately, we are still awaiting our own share of Jack Ma kits and we are expected to conduct 2,000 tests every day.”
Out of Jack Ma’s consignment, Nigeria received 100,000 face masks, 1,000 protective gowns and 20,000 test kits.
Effort of our correspondent to know from NCDC what Lagos got from Jack Ma COVID-19 response kits was not successful. A text message sent to the mobile telephone line of the agency’s media representative, Emeka Omuguo, was not replied as at the time of filing the report.