By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

Following the protest by COVID-19 asymtomatic patients housed at the
Kwandon isolation centre in Yamaltu Debba council area of Gombe State
Tuesday, the state’s Taskforce on COVID-19 said it has commenced
contact tracing of those that may have mingled with the patients.

Th asymptomatic patients had on Tuesday taken to the street of Kwandon
protesting, alleging state’s government insensitivity to their
plights.

But in a swift reaction in a statement by the state’s focal point man
of COVID-19 Taskforce, Mohammed Kwami expressed dismay over the
protest.

According to him: “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 health care 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.”

Kwami noted that the Taskforce had 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.

He stressed that It is 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” the commissioner said.

He noted that 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.

Continuing, he said 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” Kwami noted.

He assured the people of Gombe State and Nigerians in general, that
the Taskforce will do everything possible to ensure that the COVID-19
patients in the state are well taken care of.

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