The Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) has declared that all patients who attend any private facility nationwide would be deemed COVID-19 positive until proved otherwise.
The patients will also be required to comply with a protocol, which includes temperature check, compulsory hand washing before consultation, use of hand sanitisers and possible temporary isolation.
The move followed the recent exposure of some medical doctors to the virus by patients, who failed to disclose their true travel history.
This was as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as at 10:40 a.m., Saturday, April 18, announced 49 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 542, with 19 deaths and 166 persons discharged.
According to the breakdown, Lagos has 306, FCT- 81, Kano- 37, Osun- 20, Oyo- 16, Edo- 15, Ogun- 12, Kwara- 9, Katsina- 9, Bauchi- 6, Kaduna- 6, Akwa Ibom- 6, Delta- 4, Ekiti- 3, Ondo- 3, Enugu- 2, Rivers-2, Niger- 2, Benue- 1, and Anambra- 1.
GMD President Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola, in a statement, regretted that three members had died, not because they wanted to treat COVID-19 patients as speculated but because they inevitably came across the sick persons.
Dokun-Babalolaalso appealed to the Federal Ministry of Health to assist private hospitals with protective kits, saying the COVID-19 crisis does not mean other illnesses have ceased to exist.
He faulted the Federal Government for allegedly creating the impression that private medical practitioners knowingly treat COVID-19 patients for financial reward.
“The impression that private hospitals in Nigeria are keen to treat patients with COVID-19 infection, perhaps for monetary gain, must be dispelled. Permit me to mention that three of our colleagues have already died. Dr. AliyuYakubu, proprietor of Daura Clinics and Medical Centre in Katsina State, Dr. Dominic Essien of San Dominic Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Dr. Emeka Chugbo, a well renowned obstetrician who died recently in Lagos.
“The death of Dr. Chugbo is perhaps illustrative of the dilemma faced by private practitioners in Nigeria. He was an obstetrician who carried out a Cesarean Section on a COVID-19 patient and he had no idea the patient was positive. It is clear he would not have undertaken the operation if he had that knowledge.
“At the same time, the patient in question did not display any signs or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. To Dr. Chugbo, she was just a pregnant patient in distressed labour. The facts of her infection only became known after the surgery was carried out at which point the infection had been passed to our demised colleague.”
The presidency, meanwhile, has directed all State House correspondents and media office staff that covered the burial of the late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari to keep away from the Presidential Villa.
This was contained in a statement yesterday signed by AttahEsa, a deputy director of information, requesting the reporters to work from home for the next 14 days.
Kyari who was buried on Saturday was the most high-profile Nigerian to die of COVID-19.
The presidency further urged the reporters to be careful and observe the measures recommended for preventing the spread of virus.
The move followed a similar restriction placed on senior presidential aides who attended the burial.
The presidency had in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Abuja, scaled down the number of media organisations permitted to cover its activities.
A statement to that effect had read: “In view of the current restriction in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) against gathering of not more than 50 persons at the same time at any venue, as well as to be able to maintain social distancing following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative to drastically review down the presence of the over 100 State House Correspondents who usually rendezvous in the Press Briefing Room in the Presidential Villa during this period since all other departments have scaled down the presence of their staff.”
This came as the president, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, faulted the loss of confidence in public hospitals by Nigeria’s leaders.
He told The Guardian: “Taking the late Abba Kyari to a private hospital is an indication of their lack of confidence in public healthcare facilities, which have been neglected in terms of infrastructure, capacity building of staff, and maintenance. For some, perhaps it is the penchant to feel different or superior to the masses so as not to be ‘equally yoked.’”
On the failure of attendees at the burial to observe social distancing, Sokomba said: “Sure, many stages and acts during the burial left so much to be desired as far as prevention of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases is concerned.
“Regrettably the uncontrolled crowding has increased exposure of many who attended to COVID-19. It has also encouraged the spread of the disease. We hope the relevant agencies will do a diligent tracking of all exposed persons and quarantine and or isolate them where the criteria are met.”
He said further: “The right step for any individual, family and institution bereaved from COVID-19, Lassa fever and other infectious diseases is to contact the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for advice and guidance on safe burial. The NCDC/ State Epidemiology units are meant to have safe burial teams comprised of well-trained professionals including religious clerics who advise and support safe burial service.
“The entire burial was supposed to have been handled by the team, carrying the family and mourners along in keeping with the protocols/guidelines.”
On what punitive measure NARD might recommend for the violations during the burial, Sokomba said: “It is not in our place as NARD to say so.Ours is to educate on health and best practices as regards prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other health challenges. The Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies know better.”