The case of the individual who just passed away at Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH): While it is quite tragic and unfortunate that this event has regrettably put the lives of so many people at risk, it is imperative that the authorities also take the handling of #COVID19 cases very serious and react promptly to calls by individuals that need help relating to the virus.
It is very possible (while it may not be the case in this instance) that individuals with travel history or contact with persons with travel history may not divulge such information so as to get the needed medical attention that may have been denied him/her elsewhere, either;
1). Through delay in reaching them to collect their samples.
2). Failure by call center staff to provide proper counsel or
3). Not getting through on the call center lines and non-responsiveness on other provided platforms like WhatsApp.
The above reasons may force suspected #COVID19 patients to seek medical attention in private or public hospitals by concealing their status because ordinarily, they will be denied medical attention if their history is revealed.
Most of these hospitals either turn you back for having high temperature, complaining of respiratory issues or for simply having a cough. This has happened severally in the last one week in cases I am aware of but luckily, the individuals didn’t have a travel history, hardly came in contact with individuals with travel history and didn’t have the Corona Virus.
A particular individual was chased out of a General Hospital because he complained of respiratory issues. Another was rejected by her company hospital because her temperature was high and she also complained of respiratory issues. This was all after they tried the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) lines in vain.
It is therefore imperative that going forward,
1). Helplines should be manned by individuals with some professional background that can ask more than stereotyped questions and offer some counseling to callers.
2). These call center staff should be able to use some discretion in relating with complainants. A complainant staying in a hotel or in a congested environment is at risk of infecting more people than someone in a secluded or private apartment.
3). General Hospitals and health centers should have one or two staff that can attend to such related issues specifically and an area of the hospital be designated(like an emergency response unit) for such. From here cases can either be referred to the NCDC, a general practitioner or a specialist based on their initial finding
4). Some private hospitals should be identified, funded and probably equipped for referrals if the general hospitals, health centers are incapable of handling cases (that have to do with suspected symptoms of the virus).
5). Prompt response and action to calls of suspected cases.
While not excusing anyone for putting the lives of others at risk by refusing to disclose their full medical and travel history in particular at this time, patients will be more forthcoming knowing that they won’t be discriminated against for something they may or may not have due to no fault of theirs.
The writer has been at the forefront of ensuring suspected #COVID19 cases are attended to and has constantly called on the Nigerian authorities to be more proactive in dealing with the virus(to prevent further spread). He can be reached on Twitter via @UthoPaul.
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