By Tamenor Kwaghzer
Both positive and negative sides of comments are trailing the record of the first case of Coronavirus out break, known also as COVID-19 in Benue State. The comments require analysis for better understanding of the information and comprehension of the issues.
On May 22nd, 2020, the news came that a female patient, an indigene of Benue State, Susan Okpe had tested positive for COVID-19 and thus became the first case on record in the state! The State Governor, Samuel Ortom disclosed the news to journalists in Makurdi.
Governor Ortom disclosed that Susan who flew into Nigeria from the United Kingdom attended burial meeting for one of her late relatives in the village. He added that after the event, Susan complained of feeling unwell evidenced by very high fever. On account of the ill health, she visited an hospital in Makurdi for immediate medical attention.
According to the Governor, a doctor in the hospital examined her and discovered that she exhibited some symptoms of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. The symptoms included excessive coughing and persistent show of high fever among others and so, the doctor referred her to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, one of the designated isolation centers in the state for further examination!
Ortom disclosed that samples of the patient were taken to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC in Abuja for test aimed at obtaining credible result. He said, the NCDC conducted test on the sample and confirmed that she was positive of the disease. The Governor advised that other people who may have come in contact with Susan needed to isolate themselves form the general public and expressed desire for them to come forward for the test.
But he lamented equally the expediency of his government’s decision to disclose identity of the victim. Ortom stated however that the decision was in good faith and taken to safeguard generality of the rural population who mingled with Susan unknowingly during the event! He stressed that the decision would give opportunity to the vulnerable people who must make themselves available for medical test. Since the decision and other issues have come under serious scrutiny by the public seeking robust clarifications.
In the first instance, reports say that Susan Okpe has faulted the state government for allegedly mistreating and abandoning her in BSUTH at the mercy of God! According to reports, the state authorities have failed allegedly to provide good reason for confining her in the hospital.The report alleged further that no medical attention has been paid to her since admission in the health facility! Part of the complaint alleged in the report reads “…my crime is that am a British citizen who came into Nigeria…”
Another angle to the controversial seeming sentiment expressed by some other people has introduced the issue of the disclosure of Susan’s identity to the public. They allege that the disclosure violated the rights of the patient with interested parties.
Amidst the controversial accusations, the State Deputy Governor, Engineer Benso Abounu, who is also the Chairman of the State Action Committee on COVID-19 denied that his government is guilty as alleged. For better understanding of the issues, let’s consider what our elders say about the “discernibility of any story shrouded in controversy that it gets clearer only in the ears of the listening public.” This principle calls for the attention of readers to be focused and discern the veracity of defense or otherwise of Engineer Abounu’s government against the British citizen, Susan Okpe!
The Deputy Governor acknowledged that Susan Okpe is a Nigerian and Briton, with the status, she has dual nationality, but the point in issue Is that holder of the double citizenship came into the country from U. K. He continued that when leadership of the Committee was transferred to him on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2020, it action started with discussion of many COVID-19 related issues, including Susan’s.
Abounu clarified that Susan who went to the Grace Cottage Hospital after participating in the occasion for the burial of her relation in the village complained of suffering from very severe fever! He added that after examination by the doctor, the symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 manifested and she was taken to BSUTH for further checks, but Susan refused to cooperate by providing samples of her specimen to the NCDC in Abuja for examination.
The Deputy Governor continued that as the government kept persuading the patient, she consented and the sample taken to Abuja together with another separate patient. He added that the NCDC found her sample positive of.the virus while the other patient was negative. The Deputy Governor lamented that after the result came from Abuja, Susan Okpe rejected that she was positive of the ailment!
On the other hand, Engineer Abounu clarified that Susan was not suffering at BSUTH as alleged. According to him, the patient was first occupant of the new facility prepared for the purpose. Similarly, NCDC has deployed Professor Stephen Abah from its head quarters to Benue aimed at halting spread of the pandemic.
The professor who expressed reluctance to speak at the event obliged and explained that his presence in the state has a target to stop COVID-19 from spreading. Encouraging people to cooperate with the government and win the war on the pandemic, Professor Abah assured Susan Okpe of safety. He encouraged her to submit her sample to be taken for second time to Abuja for another analysis as required.