March 16, 2020

Nigerian doctor dies of coronavirus in Canada


A Nigerian medical doctor, Olumide Okunuga, has died of coronavirus in Canada.

Okunuga, who lived in Italy, reportedly contracted the disease in the North American nation.

The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, said the deceased was a pathologist.

He said: “We must be conscious of not being complacent, the price to pay for complacency is huge. I have heard people say that the black man’s gene is resistant and so COVID-19 is not for us.

“Don’t forget, some black men even from Africa, even from Nigeria have died, unfortunately. We heard the story of one doctor who lived in Italy, a Nigerian, a black man.

“So we should not get carried away. There are a lot of things known about COVID-19 and there are still things unknown. We have to be very careful about believing claims that are yet to be fully validated.”

The minister said calls to reveal the identity of the index case are contrary to the patient confidentiality clause which offers him protection.

“If you recall the case of the Nigerian doctor that lived in Italy but died in Canada or something. His daughter was called to identify him from a distance,” he said explaining that contact with the index patient is not advised.

On whether Nigeria would introduce a travel ban to prevent importation of the disease, Mamora said the health authorities are monitoring the situation.

“We are monitoring the situation and we have received an action guideline from the World Health Organisation. We’ll do it if it becomes necessary even before the end of today,” he added.

Two African nations – Ghana and South Africa had on Sunday carried out preventive measures over the COVID-19.

While Ghana said it would close its borders to travellers from countries where there are more than 200 cases of coronavirus, the former apartheid enclave shut 35 out of its 53 land borders and banned gatherings of more than 100 people.