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How Hypertensive, Diabetic Patients Brought Coronavirus To Lagos Hospitals – Medical Directors

Coronavirus Lagos hospitals

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Some private hospitals, which shut down operations after some of their staff members became exposed to coronavirus patients, have given details of how carriers of the deadly virus came to their facilities.

Findings by SUNDAY PUNCH revealed that the affected hospitals had suspended operations to decontaminate their facilities and adhere to other guidelines stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for exposed hospitals.

However, there have been unconfirmed reports that the facilities were shut by the NCDC and the Lagos State Government.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and the Lagos State government had threatened that any private hospital caught secretly treating COVID-19 patients would be shut down.

But officials of some of the private hospitals who spoke with one of our correspondents narrated how they treated patients they did not know were carriers of the virus.

Some of the officials said hospitals were in a dilemma because some health conditions such as malaria fever had symptoms similar to COVID-19, pointing out that the situation would become worse if every patient who came to seek treatment for other ailments had to be forced to go for COVID-19 testing before being attended to.

SUNDAY PUNCH spoke with the top officials of the highbrow Lagos hospitals, including Edward Specialist Hospital, St Nicholas Hospital, Premier Specialists Hospital and Reddington Hospital, Lekki

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The Medical Director of St Edward Specialist Hospital, at Ajah, Lagos, Dr Emeka Okocha, said the hospital did not know it was dealing with a carrier of the deadly virus because the patient lied about his medical history.

Okocha, who is a consultant cardiologist, said, “We didn’t treat any COVID-19 patient. A hypertensive diabetic came in with the symptoms. The patient came to see me based on the diabetics symptoms because I am a cardiologist.

“He had complications of hypertension and diabetes and based on these, I decided to admit him. That was on Saturday evening, the following day, which was Easter Sunday, officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control came to the hospital. I didn’t invite them; they came and said the man was a known contact of a person with COVID-19.

Okocha expressed sadness that the patient lied to him and did not disclose that he had had contact with a COVID-19 victim, saying if the patient had disclosed this, he would have referred him to the designated centres for treating coronavirus patients.

The medical director said, “I asked the patient initially and he said he was not a known contact. That was what gave me the go-ahead to admit him. I believed what he had was just the complications of hypertension and diabetes, which had the same symptoms as COVID.

“He had heart failure, cough and breathlessness. You cannot differentiate, so I asked him, ‘Have you had contact with anyone with COVID-19?’ He said no. ‘Did you travel outside the country recently?’ He said no. He said he came to see a cardiologist because of diabetes and hypertension complications.

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“The NCDC came the following day and took samples. That was the first time we realised that we might be dealing with COVID-19. At that time, we could not just send the patient away because it was not confirmed. We had to keep him there until the result came out. Unfortunately, the result did not come out until around 4pm the following Tuesday. The result came back positive.”

Because of the development, Okocha said some of the nurses at the hospital panicked, even though they had personal protective equipment, and posted the news on social media.

He said, “On Wednesday, the NCDC came and took the patient and that was all. But there has been noise that there is COVID-19 at St Edward. We had to close down and decontaminate immediately. We have not reopened till now (Thursday).

“Neither the NCDC nor the Lagos State Government asked us to shut down, but we closed down on our own to decontaminate. The patient lied to us and even I was exposed. We went on two weeks quarantine.

“My mind was not at rest, and after nine days in quarantine, I went and did a test and the result came back negative. After that, all the feelings I was having disappeared. Everything just went away and I am just waiting for my members of staff to come back to work.

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“What we are telling the government now is that patients like that will always come. So in this situation, what are we supposed to do? COVID-19 comes with fever, so does that mean anybody who has fever will be asked to go and do COVID-19 test before we treat them? That won’t work.

“Even in the estate where our hospital is located, the residents have been abusing us that we are treating COVID-19 cases. They said I brought a COVID-19 patient into their estate and we should move out of the estate. These people are supposed to be our neighbours but you can see what we are facing. They said we are bringing COVID-19 patients to the estate and treating them here.

“The problem we have is more of the stigma than anything else. We made a diagnosis and they have stigmatised us. We need to educate our people more about this virus and the issue of stigmatisation. Doctors have to work and if everybody who comes to hospitals is asked to go and do COVID-19 test before being attended to, then we are in for a big problem.”

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